Invitation to President Obama
Aug. 4, 2016
While many applauded US President Barack Obama's recent visit to Hiroshima, a citizen's group in Nagasaki says it felt overlooked so it sent him a request to visit their city.
Masao Tomonaga, 73, is the leader of the citizen’s group. As a doctor, he dedicated decades of his life to caring for A-bomb survivors.
Tomonaga was 2 years old when the bomb devastated Nagasaki. His home was 3 kilometers from the epicenter. As he got older he learned about the long-term effects radiation from the bomb was having on people.
"I became very interested in the fact that so many A-bomb survivors were developing leukemia. Why were there so many cases?" Tomonaga says.
Along with other experts, Tomonaga has pushed for the abolition of nuclear weapons at international conferences.
He has used data from his research to inform the international community about the struggles of A-bomb victims -- many who are still suffering more than 70 years after the bombing.
Obama's visit to Hiroshima was met with mixed feelings by the people of Nagasaki.
"It was really significant that he visited Hiroshima. But as a citizen of Nagasaki, I can’t understand why he didn’t come here as well," says a female student in Nagasaki.
Tomonaga, who has for years been part of the anti-nuclear peace movement, says the visit caused people in Nagasaki to feel overlooked. He says Obama needs to make a stronger statement.
"President Obama said he can't see abolishing nuclear weapons in his lifetime. He said again and again. He said it in Hiroshima as well as in Prague," Tomonaga says.
So, Tomonaga decided to send Obama a letter. He says this part of Obama's speech in Hiroshima gave him hope: "Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life, and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done."
"When he talks about the need for human wisdom," Tomonaga says, "I think he may be thinking about taking a step toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons as he nears the end of his term as president. If our letter touches his heartstrings, maybe he’ll say, ‘Okay, I’m going to Nagasaki.'"
Tomonaga realizes that the path to eliminating these weapons will not be easy. At the end of his letter, Tomonaga had another request for the President of the United States.
"Would you not then be able to declare to the world your resolution and call out for Nagasaki to forever be the last site of an atomic bombing?" Tomonaga wrote.
The letter says such an announcement could usher in a new stage of human wisdom and achieve a miracle -- a world without nuclear weapons.