Junior High School Category 1st Prize
The Baton The Ichikawas Entrusted To Me
9th grade, Satsumasendai City Kedoin Junior High School
There is a family near me who can't even have that casual conversation.
When I was in my first year of middle school, I watched the anime "Megumi." Megumi and her family seemed very happy. But suddenly that time was cut off by North Korea. She couldn't do ordinary things like eat her mother's home cooking or play with her siblings. My chest tightened just imagining myself in her place.
I was chosen to be a representative at the Middle School Summit on the North Korean Abduction of Japanese Citizens, organized by the government. I was frightened just recalling "Megumi," so I hesitated on whether I would be able to face this issue. My parents encouraged me with the words "it will be a good experience," and so I started learning about the abductions. While researching the initiatives up to the present day, I resolved to next consider the issue of the abductions with middle school students from around the country! However, I gave up hope of attending due to a typhoon, which was very frustrating. On the night of the summit, I watched on the news ICHIKAWA Kenichi, the older brother of ICHIKAWA Shuichi, a local Kagoshima victim of the abduction, bring up solutions to the issue near the place where the abduction took place. I wanted to meet Kenichi.
On August 30th, I was able to meet ICHIKAWA Kenichi and his wife. Kenichi adored Shuichi, who called him "big brother," and so he didn't ever think that he would suddenly no longer be able to see that little brother of his. One day after a futile 17 years of large-scale searches had passed, information was brought forth by a former spy that Shuichi was kidnapped by North Korea, and he was still alive. "As long as he's alive," his family said, crying. And they told me a story that made a deep impression. With his first paycheck, Shuichi bought his mom an Oshima tsumugi kimono, but the abduction happened and the kimono stayed in her dresser, never to be worn. His mother said she would wear it when Shuichi came back, but she died without that being fulfilled. Carrying on his parents' wishes, with the family left behind he's been fervently involved in rescue activities. Lastly, I was entrusted with this message from the Ichikawas. "Human life is so valuable, it is more important than earth. We want everyone to think that way from a young age. If someone's in trouble, help them. It may be difficult to mobilize into action, but if we can do it, it's our highest calling as humans. When we are petitioning or giving speeches, we want to etch in everyone's minds the idea of working together and chipping in and resolve to settle the abduction issue. In this life, unexpected things may happen. We want you to pause and be grateful for casual days you spend with your family. Even if people are of different opinions, the most important thing is conversation, because people's minds can be changed with conversation." The couple's words made my heart tremble greatly. From that day on, I came to hold more interest in news about the abduction issue. It's now my turn to inform everyone and pass on the baton the Ichikawas entrusted to me. Praying for ordinary days where everyone's human rights are esteemed, and being thankful for life and casual days.