1,000 paper cranes made in Sakhalin and Moscow to commemorate nuclear bombings

1,000 paper cranes made in Sakhalin and Moscow to commemorate nuclear bombings
1,000 paper cranes (Image: Michael Day under a CC licence)

7 August 2015

Residents of Sakhalin, an island in the Russian Far East, yesterday commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, using paper cranes as a symbol of peace.

Acting governor of the Sakhalin region Oleg Kozhemyako joined Japanese general consul Akira Imamura for a commemoration ceremony in the Alley of Sakura (cherry blossom) in the main park in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the largest city on the island. The two officials then wrote words of support to the Japanese people on a large paper crane, and the residents of Sakhalin donated 1,000 paper cranes to Japanese children.

“Lanterns were lit up and paper cranes were made as a symbol of peace,” the press office of the Sakhalin government stated, “Many people couldn’t hold their tears back, remembering the story of Hiroshima girl Sadako Sasaki.”

Sadako Sasaki was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped near her home in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. She miraculously survived but a decade later was diagnosed with leukemia caused by exposure to nuclear radiation. Sadako is remembered for her attempt to make 1,000 origami cranes while in hospital, following the wisdom of an ancient Japanese legend, which promises that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Tragically, Sadako only managed to fold 644 cranes before she died.

During the ceremony, Mr Imamura urged world leaders and young people to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see with their own eyes the continuing impact of the tragedy.

Moscow residents also brought 1,000 origami cranes to the US embassy in central Moscow to commemorate the (at least) 200,000 victims of the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which occurred on 6 and 9 August 1945 respectively.