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June 1998

Picture Book Calls for Clearing Mines in War-Torn Areas

A sequel to the bilingual picture book "A Plea from Sunny: Not Mines, But Flowers" has been published in Japan and is receiving a great deal of attention from countries around the world for its appeal to clear land mines in war-ravaged areas, such as Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Both volumes are written in English and Japanese.

Titled "Sunny Heads for Cambodia: Not Mines, But Flowers II," the sequel was written by Fusako Yanase, who also authored the original. Yanase is secretary general of the Association to Aid Refugees, Japan (AAR), a Tokyo-based volunteer group that began a land-mine clearing campaign in Japan through the picture books.

Founded in 1979, the AAR has 3,500 members and seven overseas branches, carrying out training and support programs for refugees, including land-mine victims, in many parts of the world.

Shomei Yo, a noted illustrator, furnished both the first and second volumes with brightly colored paintings.

A little white rabbit named Sunny is the main character of both books. It tells a very sad story about land mines and their victims.

In the first book, Sunny informs readers that more than 110 million land mines are buried in 64 areas around the world, killing and maiming 25,000 people every year, and calls for a worldwide effort to "plant a flower for one mine, a tree for another."

"We must remove them (landmines) now, or children, adults, and animals alike will all be endangered," the book says.

In the second volume, Sunny visits Cambodia, where it witnesses the land-mine victims' despair and agony. On its way to a mine field, the rabbit encounters a cow with only one leg. "What happened?" Sunny asks. "Even its eyes and ears look misshapen."

A woman Sunny meets at a hospital says, "'I'm the fourth person to lose a leg in this village. My family abandoned me. I'm afraid to be seen by other people. I'm lonely. My life is over.'"

Hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold so far, and profits from the two books support international mine-clearing activities. The two volumes, 1,500 yen each, raises 600 yen per copy, enough to clear a 10-square-meter plot of land.

Photos: Now that a sequel (top) has joined in with the first volume (above), AAR members hope that their land-mine clearing campaign increases momentum. (Association to Aid Refugees, Japan)

To find out more about the books and the campaign, visit
the Association to Aid Refugees, Japan.
You can also read summaries of the books and order copies.