Hiroshima and Nagasaki mayors deliver letter to U.S. Embassy, requesting visit by President Obama

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

On December 26, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki delivered a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, requesting that President Barack Obama visit their cities in April. The mayors stressed the significance of Mr. Obama’s visit to see the consequences of the atomic bombings firsthand, as he has called for a world without nuclear weapons. In the letter, the mayors say they would welcome the president’s visit, wishing to look toward the future, and are not asking for an apology for the A-bomb attacks.

The letter of request was signed by both Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and by Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue. Referring to media reports on the preparations being made by the governments of Japan and the United States to realize Mr. Obama’s official visit to Japan in April, they requested that he visit the two cities if his visit to Japan is confirmed. They would like Mr. Obama to send a strong message, from the A-bombed cities to the world, which conveys his strong determination to work for a world without nuclear weapons.

The letter was delivered by the staff members of the Tokyo offices of the two cities. The embassy staff member who received the letter reportedly said that after the letter is shown to the ambassador, it will be sent to the United States.

Mr. Matsui said at a press conference on December 26: “We would like to move beyond asking for an apology. If President Obama expresses his determination to work for a world without nuclear weapons from our cities, it will help put the past behind us.”

The letter of request was prepared in line with the suggestion made by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy when the two mayors met with her on December 16. Hiroshima and Nagasaki jointly sent similar letters of request in 2009 and in 2012, but received no reply at those times.

(Originally published on December 27, 2013)