Koji Kobayashi is a Hiroshima bombing survivor. He was nine years old when he was knocked down right after he entered his school house, which was about two kilometers away from the epicenter. He could see only blinding light at the northern side windows. He had no time to hear any sound before he was knocked down because winds from the nuclear weapon were instantaneous. He fainted when his school house was blown up, and he was rescued after several hours from the heap of rubble and ruins of the school by his mother and a neighbor man.
Koji’s most vivid memory is that of so many people coming to him, and while he watched, their skin and flesh fell off in front of him as they all ran to refuge in the mountainside. The experience of losing his home, many of his extended family members and friends, and of his town becoming a molten horror, all in a few hours’ time, is an experience few people can even imagine.
Now, over sixty years later, delayed effects of the extreme radiation he experienced in the bombing have made Koji spend the past several years battling cancer in many parts of his body. He has suffered great pain and grief, many surgeries, radiation treatments, and hospitalizations. The horrors of war and devastations of a bomb’s blast are far-reaching and never-ending. Yet Koji has overcome the natural inclinations to hate those who hurt him and his loved ones and took so much from him when he was but an innocent child. Instead, Koji launched a bold peace campaign to reach around the world with a message of peace through music and the urgent cry to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Koji declared, “As a first nuclear weapon survivor, for the rest of my life I shall devote myself to Peace in order that every human being could appreciate Peace in every way. I know there are many people even in Hiroshima saying ‘You are not realistic, but a Dreamer of Peace! like the song Imagine.’ But, actually, I am not alone. Today, you join us to wage and promote Peace. And in the world we live in now, we can be as One, I do believe. So, I walk my way of the belief as the mission God has given to me. My laryngeal cancer was found one September, followed by esophagus cancer in November. Since then, treatments of radiation, anti-cancer drug dripping, operation and surgeries are as if endless. More truly, I experienced stomach cancer, followed by tongue, left lung, thyroid, and so forth. Some doctors insist that I suffer continued fear and anxiety of lasting danger from uranium radiation, the evil of nuclear weapon. So, just as President Jimmy Carter declared in his Inaugural Address: “The ultimate goal is to eliminate all nuclear weapons from this world, for success can mean life instead of death!” This is my goal too.
One who met Koji said to him, “Your mission is successful far beyond what you have imagined. Many organizations are now trying to help eliminate nuclear weapons. A very informative videoclip with b.b.’s representing hidden nuclear weapons was made available to the many millions who click to http://www.TruemajorityACTION.org , a powerful grass-roots movement for changes that better our world.” To see the unforgetable short clip click here:
Ms. SuZen, co-director of the Universal Peace Initiative NY said, ‘Thank you so very much for your speaking at Universal Peace Day at the Bandshell of Central Park and The Riverside Church. Your talk was very informative and inspirational. You helped creating a very memorable event, and transforming the day from one of a remembrance of horror into a rededication to life’.”
This year the Peace Concert group traveled again to the United States to give two Concerts for Peace in New York City: at Central Park Bandshell and at the Riverside Church. These concerts were very well received and inspired peace on a grassroots, person-to-person level in such a moving way that everyone who heard the concert, or even heard about the concert, felt inspired to learn how to do whatever possible in their own lives to inspire and promote peace, which begins with consciousness of giving peaceful response inwardly and outwardly every time one feels wronged. The concerts were well-received.
As Chairman of The Hiroshima Initiative, Koji conceived of the Concerts for Peace and worked diligently to raise the money to organize a Japanese youth group of singers and performers to teach these young people that hatred and war accomplish nothing but pain and that true healing comes through forgiveness and peace on a daily basis. Their mission is to spread Peace through Song. The first concert was in Hiroshima in the summer of 2005, on the 62 anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One year ago, the musicians and I moved to New York to join the events of 62nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was held on August 5th. Special thanks to Delta Airlines for helping continuously.
These concerts and the travel involved were extremely difficult for Koji, who was in his weakest state physically from his cancer surgeries and treatments. Although his doctors advised against his attempting such a long and arduous trip when his condition was so weakened, Koji was determined to work for peace until his dying day. To those who met him, Koji is a great inspiration and the example of one man working so hard to fulfill what he considers his life purpose. His message of Peace is astonishing and profound. This legacy will do far more for his family and the world than a legacy of hatred and retribution, which many war survivors hand down to their children.
Immediately after the concerts Koji returned to Japan to face more surgeries. He had almost given up hope for his own survival when his health took a positive turn, and he has received good news of cancer remission. We honor Koji as a very special person who works so hard to try to make the world a better place by spreading Peace through Music, the universal language, and inspiring thousands of people to create other ways of working for peace.
Koji reminds everyone of the words of the co-pilot of Enola Gay, the B29 plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima in 1945: “Oh my God. What have we done! In front of my eyes the city of Hiroshima disappeared!”
Tests have proven the bombs today to be over 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb. If a nuclear war started, our Planet Earth might disappear. And human beings frequently make mistakes by chance. Take time to ponder the fear people of the USA and the world experienced during the Bay of Pigs Crisis in 1962 and in all these months and years following 9/11. The world community lives in fear that a Nuclear War might start at any moment. Buried within the USA and other nations’ places of defense are enough nuclear warheads to destroy our entire planet thousands of times over. And since The Iron Curtain Wall fell, other countries and terrorists have rushed to obtain and perfect nuclear power to destroy.
What are we thinking? It is time we each work to entice companies who make weapons of war for big profits to turn those industries to making “weapons” of Peace. The profits of a Peace industry can be monetarily vast and even greater in other areas in the larger scope of our lives. We each owe this work of peace to ourselves, our children and grandchildren, and the survival of the earth. We must be aware of our actions and choices daily. Check your stock portfolio. Are your choices of investments making you one who profits from war? Take a stand by changing your investment portfolio. If we each extend our efforts in some tiny way, like Koji, who has given his ALL, we CAN achieve Peace on Earth. But we must not be silent.