A-bomb survivor receives replies from three G8 nations in response to her invitation to visit Hiroshima

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

Emiko Okada, 71, an A-bomb survivor from Hiroshima, has written letters to the state leaders of the seven foreign nations that will take part in the G8 Toyako Summit in Hokkaido in July, encouraging them to visit the city during their trip to Japan. To date, she has received responses from the U.S., the U.K., and Germany. Though her invitation was declined due to scheduling conflicts, one reply included comments concerning Hiroshima and nuclear disarmament. Ms. Okada is pleased with this response to her effort to convey her experience of the bombing.

In her letter, Ms. Okada urged the leaders to experience Hiroshima firsthand so they can truly understand the destructive nature of nuclear weapons and thus avoid their use in the future. She revised the letter over a period of several weeks, touching on her own experience of the bombing, and asked a friend to translate it into English. Ms. Okada then sent her letter to the U.S. in late February and to the other six nations at the end of March.

Responses from the U.S. and Germany arrived on April 18 and a reply from the U.K. came on April 30. In the letter from Germany, the top government official in charge of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation expressed his condolences to the A-bomb victims and explained Germany's initiatives toward disarmament. His message concluded with the words, “Your letter is an appeal and encouragement to us to press ahead with the vision of a nuclear-weapon free world.”

The letter from the U.S. came from an aide to the President while the U.K. letter was sent by a secretary to the Prime Minister. Both letters expressed appreciation for Ms. Okada's invitation to visit and apologized for having to give their regrets.

The experience has strengthened Ms. Okada's desire to continue communicating her experience of the atomic bomb. “I feel gratified that they thought of Hiroshima while composing the letters,” she said.