Gen Kikkawa, 61, assumes post of president of Hiroshima Peace Institute at Hiroshima City University

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

Gen Kikkawa has returned to Hiroshima, where he was born and raised, for the first time in about 20 years. Though he would have retired as a professor at Sophia University, located in Tokyo, in five more years, he did not hesitate to accept the position of president at the Hiroshima Peace Institute. “Words that are conveyed from the A-bombed city carry a lot of weight,” Mr. Kikkawa said. “I’d like to issue messages from Hiroshima about how international relations should be conducted in order to build peace.”

Mr. Kikkawa took up the top post of the Hiroshima Peace Institute at Hiroshima City University, located in Asaminami Ward, Hiroshima, on April 1. Prior to his arrival, the position had been virtually vacant for two years. Mr. Kikkawa is a specialist on international security and international relations, and has conducted research in these fields at Hiroshima Shudo University and Kobe University.

“I have been interested in the origins of war since I was a child, perhaps because of my father,” Mr. Kikkawa said. His late father, who was a military officer in the former Japanese Imperial Army and engaged in intelligence activity in Europe during World War II, often told him about international affairs of that era. Mr. Kikkawa also heard how his parents’ house was located in downtown Hiroshima during the war and his father lost many relatives as a result of the atomic bombing.

In his younger years as a researcher, Mr. Kikkawa immersed himself in studies on socialist nations. He pointed out, “During the Cold War, preventing the outbreak of war was a higher priority than anything else. The fact that a lot of people were victimized under the dictatorships of developing countries was overlooked.” His voice then took on a more passionate tone as he shared his convictions: “We must work out a form of diplomacy that can safeguard the citizens of all nations.”

Mr. Kikkawa is now concerned about current conditions in East Asia, which is troubled by North Korea’s actions. He would also like to nurture the idea of bringing together researchers, peace activists, and journalists to form a study group that could explore the issue of building international relations where no nuclear weapons are needed. “Even if you can formulate a theory, it will have no meaning unless it has a place in politics,” said Mr. Kikkawa. “I would like to work in close cooperation with the City of Hiroshima to help move the Japanese government and the world.”

He has gained another form of enjoyment from his return to his hometown: Mr. Kikkawa is a longtime fan of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, the city’s professional baseball team. “I hope to see a baseball game at Mazda Stadium as soon as I can,” he said. As his children are now grown, he and his wife live alone in Asakita Ward, Hiroshima.

(Originally published on April 1, 2013)