Letters invite President Obama to visit Hiroshima

by Keisuke Yoshihara

The hopes of those involved in a letter-writing campaign to persuade U.S. President Barack Obama to visit the A-bombed city of Hiroshima have been bolstered by the news, announced on April 2, that Japan and the United States are making arrangements for the president to come to Japan later this year. The participants of the “President Obama Invitation Project” will step up their efforts to realize their goal of an incumbent U.S. president visiting Hiroshima for the first time.

“Peace Seeds,” a peace newspaper produced by Japanese teens in Hiroshima and published as a regular insert in the Chugoku Shimbun, initiated this letter-writing campaign last November and received 335 letters from junior and senior high school students. The letters have been translated into English and the organizers of the project are now trying to find the best route for delivering these letters.

Minako Iwata, 15, a first-year student at Hiroshima Nagisa Senior High School and a junior writer for Peace Seeds, said enthusiastically, “We would like to deliver the letters as soon as possible in order to increase the chance of the president visiting Hiroshima.”

Aki Fujisaki, 35, a housewife who volunteered to translate the letters into English, hopes that the president will send a strong message to the world from Hiroshima by calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Seven organizations of A-bomb survivors have asked that their joint letter be included with the other letters of invitation to the president. “This is good news,” said Sunao Tsuboi, 84, chairman of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations. “We will also try to take prompt action and again request that the president visit Hiroshima.”

(Originally published on April 3, 2009)