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Bomb victim’s paper cranes shared

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HIROSHIMA, Japan >> Relatives of Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old girl who came to represent victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, showed spouses of the Group of Seven leaders paper cranes that Sadako folded shortly before her death. Her family members conveyed their hope for the abolishment of nuclear weapons.

Sadako was just 2 years old when she was exposed to radiation from the bombing; her home was a mere mile from ground zero. She was diagnosed with leukemia 10 years later and died in 1955. After her death, her story of folding 1,600 paper cranes from her hospital bed during her eight-month hospitalization spread throughout the world.

Her story led to the Children’s Peace Monument, located in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. The monument receives about 10 million paper cranes annually.

Sadako’s older brother Masahiro, 81, and her nephew Yuji, 52, were in attendance May 19 during a symposium attended by spouses of world leaders attending the G7 summit. Yuji’s 7-year-old son held out a paper crane folded by Sadako for attendees to view; they included U.S. first lady Jill Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s wife, Britta.

“We were able to pass on the thoughts and feelings of Sadako, who lived to be only 12 years old. We hope that (her paper cranes) will contribute to world peace,” said Yuji.

Two years ago Yuji joined an effort to craft a silver-colored crane modeled after the last crane Sadako folded from her bed, to continue spreading the girl’s vision of peace. The group prepared copies, embellished with the words “G7 Hiroshima” on the underside of the left wing, for the latest summit meeting, which ran May 19-21.

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