City of Sydney Council voted unanimously to join the Green Legacy Hiroshima project this month and have begun working with the Royal Botanic Gardens to secure the seed of a tree that survived the Hiroshima atomic bombings.
This year is the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Between 129,000 and 226,000 people were killed.
Green Legacy Hiroshima safeguards and spreads the seeds and saplings of Hiroshima’s survivor trees which have become a symbol for peace and nuclear disarmament.
Hannah Middleton, an activist with the Sydney Hiroshima Day Committee, appealed to Council to bring a Hiroshima survivor tree to the city.
She said nuclear weapons are not the way to solve modern problems.
“It was a really a crime against humanity. So many people died at that time, so many people suffered appallingly. People have died since, as a result of radiation sickness. The use of nuclear weapons is an abomination,” she told City Hub.
The Hiroshima Day Committee has taken to the streets in protest over the last few years with their slogan, ‘Hiroshima Never Again.’
In 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) opened for signature at the United Nations and entered into force in January this year.
The treaty bans the production, testing, use and possession of nuclear weapons, and establishes a framework for their elimination.
There are currently 86 signatories, including New Zealand.
Australia has not ratified the treaty, despite the fact that ICAN’s roots were sowed in Melbourne in 2007.
ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in achieving the nuclear weapon ban treaty.
Australia’s strict controls over the importation of live seeds have led to problems in securing a survivor tree.
Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully said the Council has been chipping away at this project for two years.
“It’s a memorial to that one particular terrible, nuclear incident, but this is still an active threat in our world,” Scully told City Hub.
“This isn’t ancient history, this is still a live issue where I think for many of us when we’re in the bubble of the world that we’re in right now, it’s not at the front of our minds.”
The Royal Botanic Gardens agreed to partner with the council to cultivate the seed to a sapling until the trees are sufficient maturity and size to survive at a decided position in the city.
The Botanic Gardens have been key partners to the 36 countries and 118 cities around the world that are hosts to the survivor trees.
Green Legacy Hiroshima marked its 10-year anniversary this July. It is a self-described 1000-year campaign.
“It’s very rare to come across a project with that level of long-term ambition,” said Scully.