Obama’s paper crane completes set of 1,000 cranes by Hiroshima students

by Yui Kihara, Staff Writer

Students of Hiroshima Prefectural University reported on February 15 at the university that they have received a letter and a paper crane from former U.S. President Barack Obama. The paper crane has also been signed by Mr. Obama. His letter was a reply to a message from members of the Obama Project, which was launched by students of the university with the aim of encouraging the former president to visit Hiroshima again. The message said that 999 paper cranes had been folded with the hope that Mr. Obama would revisit the city. A sheet of origami paper accompanied the message, as the students were hoping that Mr. Obama would fold the last crane to complete the set of 1,000 paper cranes. The students are impressed by the letter, which, they believe, shows that Mr. Obama still has Hiroshima in his heart.

Hiromasa Hara, 21, the leader of the Obama Project, is in his senior year in the Faculty of Human Culture and Science at the university. His great-grandfather was an A-bomb survivor. He received the letter from Mr. Obama at the Obama Foundation in Washington, D.C., on February 7. He had visited the foundation on the previous day to tell them about the 999 paper cranes folded by students in Hiroshima Prefecture and to present a sheet of origami paper.

The paper crane signed by Mr. Obama has 16-centimeter-long wings. It was accompanied by a letter which says, “I am pleased to share the one-thousandth crane with you.” He described the 999 paper cranes as “a symbol of the limitless potential in each of you.” Mr. Obama also encouraged the students by saying, “Michelle and I…are rooting for you, and we are counting on you…to help lead our world toward our brighter, more beautiful shared future.”

Mr. Hara also delivered 197 letters to Mr. Obama that were written by elementary, junior, and senior high school students in Hiroshima. They wrote that they hope Mr. Obama will visit Hiroshima again and that nuclear weapons will be abolished. Mr. Obama described these letters as “thoughtful and inspiring.”

Mr. Hara met with Kenichi Nakamura, 72, the president of the university, on February 15 at the university campus, located in Minami Ward, Hiroshima, and reported on his trip to the United States. Mr. Hara responded with delight, saying, “I feel that Mr. Obama has great empathy for our activities. There cannot be greater encouragement than this.”

The Obama Project was launched in June 2017. It now has 20 members who are students or graduates of the university. The letter and the paper crane from Mr. Obama will be kept by the university, which will consider putting them on display.

Below is the full text of Barack Obama’s letter.


February 7, 2019

Prefectural University of Hiroshima

Hiroshima, Japan

Dear PUH Students:

Nimi let me know about the wonderful meeting you shared yesterday, and I am pleased to share the one-thousandth crane with you ―a symbol of the limitless potential in each of you and each one of the students who wrote me such thoughtful and inspiring letters.

Michelle and I believe in you, we are rooting for you, and we are counting on you to pick up the baton, continue talking about the tough issues your generation will soon need to get to work on solving, and help lead our world toward our brighter, more beautiful shared future.


Barack Obama

(Originally published on February 16, 2019)