Nagasaki-themed ‘hibakusha’ sneakers support peace education
By Shohei Okada
(Original article: The Asahi Shimbun. August 31, 2016)
NAGASAKI–An international sportswear manufacturer based in Denmark has recruited an 87-year-old iconic “hibakusha” for its latest athletics shoe campaign.
Sumiteru Taniguchi, a well-known atomic bomb survivor, was selected by Hummel International to represent its peace-oriented line, which kicked off Aug. 30, under a project titled “Pray with Hibakusha.”
“I am not used to wearing sneakers,” Taniguchi said shyly while modeling the footwear. “There are many enthusiastic fans of sports, but there are not so many of the peace movement. I would like people to realize the importance of the peace movement through sports.”
Hummel has been promoting various projects to realize its corporate philosophy of “changing the world through sports” in Japan.
Since April, the firm released two shoe models in Japan developed after input from a disabled athlete and an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) model.
The Nagasaki-themed sneaker line is the third such project to “make Nagasaki the last A-bombed city on Earth.”
Hummel has also collaborated with V-Varen Nagasaki and made peace memorial uniforms for the second-division professional soccer team since 2015.
The fabric used for the new sneakers represents peace using a pattern that morphs images of plants into camouflage, according to Hummel.
Taniguchi was 16 when he suffered horrific burns on his back in the atomic bombing of Aug. 9, 1945. He became known worldwide for a shocking photo of him lying on his stomach, exposing the raw burned flesh on his back.
Taniguchi, who has been vocal about the abolition of nuclear weapons in and outside Japan, serves as chairman of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council.
Images of the 16-year-old Taniguchi’s burned back and movies about the project featuring him will be displayed along with the sneakers on the retail end.
“We hope this will provide the opportunity (for shoppers) to learn about the real consequences of the atomic bombing,” said a person in charge of the campaign at SSK Corp., an Osaka-based agency that works with Hummel in Japan.
Proceeds from the sales of the peace shoes will be donated to promote peace education outside of Nagasaki.
The limited-edition shoes are offered in khaki and white. They are priced at 14,000 yen ($136.80), excluding tax, and only 300 pairs are available. They are sold at 12 selected retailers in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, as well as online at http://www.hummelshop.jp.