Students launch campaign to invite U.S. President Obama to Hiroshima

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

Junior high and senior high school students have launched a campaign to invite U.S. President Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima in order to make a direct appeal to the president for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

On May 26, nine junior high and senior high school students gathered in downtown Hiroshima to discuss the campaign. They are representatives from Hiroshima Jogakuin High School and Notre Dame High School; the “Hiroshima Students Peace Seminar,” a peace education circle comprised of high schools students in Hiroshima; and junior writers for “Peace Seeds,” a children’s newspaper produced by teens in Hiroshima that appears as a regular feature in the Chugoku Shimbun.

Regarding the significance of inviting Mr. Obama to Hiroshima, the students said that a visit by the president of the United States, the only country to have used nuclear weapons, would surely be a large step toward nuclear abolition, particularly in light of Mr. Obama’s call for a “world without nuclear weapons.” They also feel that the president should visit Nagasaki, the other A-bombed city.

The students began holding meetings for the campaign at the end of April. To date, more than 30 junior high and high schools students from nine schools in Hiroshima have joined the effort. They will meet several times to study nuclear issues and discuss the details of their campaign to invite Mr. Obama to Hiroshima.

“I would like our campaign to break new ground by having students from a variety of schools working together,” said Nao Tatsugawa, 17, who attends Motomachi High School.

Yuji Kanemori, 17, a student at Hiroshima Gakuin High School, added, “I want to start by learning a lot about nuclear issues.”

Last November “Peace Seeds” appealed for readers to write letters to President Obama, inviting him to visit Hiroshima, and received 335 letters. These letters have been transferred to Dennis Kucinich, a U.S. Democratic Congressman, for delivery to Mr. Obama.

(Originally published on May 28, 2009)

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