6 August 2013, Geneva, Switzerland – On the occasion of the 68 years anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, a 4-year-old Ginkgo biloba sapling, descendent of one of 170 trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, was planted at the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva in a ceremony organized by the Green Legacy Hiroshima (GLH), hosted by ICRC with the support of UNITAR.

A Gingko Biloba sapling at ICRCThe survivor trees, to be found at some 55 locations within a two-kilometer radius of the bomb's hypocenter, were nurtured and protected over decades by the Hiroshima City and local citizens' groups.  Now, through the efforts of GLH -- a volunteer initiative founded in 2011 with support from the UNITAR and a local NGO, ANT-Hiroshima -- seeds and saplings of these trees are being shared worldwide.  The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, the Hiroshima Botanical Garden, Hiroshima University as well as the City and the Prefecture of Hiroshima also support the global effort.

The ICRC and Hiroshima have a special bond of friendship. On 8 September 1945 Dr. Marcel Junod, then head of the ICRC delegation, became the first foreign physician to enter the devastated city, bringing with him 15 tons of desperately-needed medical supplies. Over four days he inspected surviving hospitals, and personally tended to the sick and injured, writing later in his memoirs of the horrific impact of nuclear weapons on human beings. In honor of Dr. Junod’s contributions a stone marker dedicated to him stands at the entrance of Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park, and every year his anniversary is celebrated by Hiroshima's citizens

participants of the tree-planting ceremonyAt the ceremony, ICRC vice-president Mr. Olivier Vodoz gave a keynote speech, followed by a statement from the deputy permanent representative of Japan in Geneva Takashi Okada.  Messages from the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were also read out at the ceremony.

It is estimated that there are currently some 17,000 nuclear weapons worldwide, with almost 2000 of them on high-alert status. The ICRC has consistently drawn attention to the disastrous effects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima, and of Nagasaki, and generally to 'the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons for public health, human safety and the environment', calling for their total abolition.

On the same day, there is a similar tree-planting event in California to commemorate the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl from Hiroshima who died of radiation-induced leukemia as a result of the atomic bombing.


top: 4-year-old Ginkgo biloba sapling planted in the ICRC premises

bottom: A moment of silence at 8:15 am, exact time when the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima on 6 August 1945

Related links:

Green Legacy Hiroshima webpage

Switzerland: Ceremony recalls dangers of nuclear weapons (ICRC website)

Red Cross holds A-bomb ceremony, calls for disarmament (Global Post)

Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese)

Jiji.com (in Japanese)

47 News (in Japanese)

Hokkoku Shimbun (in Japanese)

UN Secretary-General’s message to a ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima (The Mainichi)

Message from the Mayor of Hiroshima (in English, PDF, 57KB)

Message from the Mayor of Hiroshima (in Japanese, PDF, 102KB)

Message from the Mayor of Nagasaki (in English, PDF, 226KB)