The Oleander Initiative was featured in the Yomiuri Shimbun and Chugoku Shimbun, two leading newspapers in Japan. The Yomiuri Shimbun is the largest national newspaper in Japan, and with a circulation of just under 10 millon readers, it is the largest circulated newspaper in the world. The article about the Oleander Initiative was featured on August 12th, 2016.
Yomiuri Shimbun, August 12, 2016
Article on Page 31
Chugoku Shimbun, August 9, 2016
Article on Page 18
Title: I Would Like to Send a Message About the Evil of Nuclear Weapons to the Middle East.
Subtitle: Twelve teachers from Middle East were invited to attend the Hiroshima peace ceremony: An American man had a grandfather who was a hibakusha (atomic bomb victim) .
An American, Ray Matsumiya (42), attended this year’s Hiroshima Peace Ceremony. He was with 12 teachers from Middle East countries such as the Palestinian Autonomous Region and Lebanon, among others, who were in Hiroshima for the first time. Matsumiya is a second generation Japanese American whose grandfather who was a hibakusha (atomic bomb victim). Matsumiya insists on “delivering a message on the importance of peace from Hiroshima,” and that “nuclear weapons should not spread to Middle East where there is war and terrorism.”
Matsumiya’s late grandfather on his mother’s side lived in Kure city nearby Hiroshima when the atomic-bomb destroyed most of the city. On that day, as the chief of firemen, Matsumiiya’s grandfather led a squad into Hiroshima on a rescue mission for survivors. He was exposed to strong radiation there. He lost his hair in a week, and eventually lost the sight of his left eye. Years later, Matsumiya’s mother moved to Boston, USA where he was born and raised. She often told him about the stories from his grandfather about the piteous victims of the bomb. She also told him about the discrimination against hibakusha shortly after the war. His mother taught him to be a person who is strongly against all war.
After graduating from university, he helped start an NGO in Massachusetts, U.S that supported educational activities for people in the Middle East. He found that the schools in that region have not taught their students the history of the A-bomb disasters, despite there being a risk of the same type of catastrophe in the region. He believes it to be a serious issue, and hopes that it will be greatly helpful to enable these teachers to visit and learn about Hiroshima. Thus he began planning their visit last year.
While he was in Japan for the preparation of their visit, U.S. President Obama visited Hiroshima. Ray saw the incumbent President of the United States hugging a still living Japanese hibakusha, and felt that it was a very moving moment. As a person whose roots are in both U.S. and Japan, he saw Hiroshima as a strong symbol of peace.
The teachers at the program mentioned that they would like to learn from the people of Hiroshima. They were impressed how the people of Hiroshima rose from a ruined city and later prospered. The Middle Eastern teachers promised to transmit their experience of visiting Hiroshima to their students. They felt that when this transmission occurs, peace in the world would advance a step. Matsumiya’s program has received a very positive response and said that he intends to continue this project
ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF CHUGOKU SHIMBUN ARTICLE
Title: Teachers from Nine Countries and Regions in the Middle East and North Africa are Currently Studying Peace Education in Hiroshima
Twelve teachers from nine countries and regions in the Middle East and North Africa, such as Tunisia and Palestine are currently in Hiroshima. They are studying how this city was affected by the A-bombing and how it was reconstructed. A Japanese American, Ray Matsumiya (42), who has a hibakusha grandfather, organized this program so that the teachers would make use of what they learned back home to resolve regional conflicts and bring peace to the area.
A group of junior high teachers and officials from the ministry of education arrived in Hiroshima on August 2, and received lectures on the A-bombing and also attended the Peace Memorial Ceremony.
On August 8, they presented their plans for teaching about peace education at the International Conference Center. After listening the pledge for peace by two child representatives, Ms Layla Ben-Said (43) of Tunisia, who teaches English, said “I believe it is important to pass down the memories of Hiroshima, and I want to convey the message of families of the victims of the bomb that peace is invaluable,” She suggested that hibakusha and /or victims’ relatives should go around the world to tell their terrible tales about the atomic bomb and therefore contribute towards world peace.
Mr. Matsumiya is the executive director of an NPO that works in education and conflict resolution. He has invited about 30 teachers from the Middle East and North Africa to an educational workshop in the U.S. every year since 1998. He planned this workshop in Hiroshima last year, taking the occasion of the70th anniversary of A-bombing.