Parents of Japanese boy slain in U.S. continue gun control campaign

Ten years after their 16-year-old son was shot dead in the United States, the parents of the Japanese boy are still campaigning for gun control.

Yoshihiro Hattori, from Aichi Prefecture, was a high school exchange student when he was gunned down in a tragic accident on Oct. 18, 1992.

Hattori’s mother, Mieko, 54, and father, Masaichi, 55, traveled to the U.S. for two weeks in late September.

In addition to visiting Baton Rouge in Louisiana, where their son was killed, they also visited a high school in Minnesota that organizes signature-gathering rallies against bringing guns to school.

At the Minnesota high school the parents gave a speech, saying, “We are supporting (your) gun control movement in Japan.” The couple said they had gained new strength from the students to carry on their appeal.

Yoshihiro was shot by the owner of a house in Baton Rouge after he mistook the address on his way to a Halloween party. The owner was found not guilty during a criminal trial but was ordered to pay compensation to Yoshihiro’s parents in a civil suit.

The couple gathered about 1.7 million signatures in the first year of their signature-gathering rallies in Japan. They later delivered them to then U.S. President Bill Clinton in person.

The parents are calling for donations to expand two foundations set up in their son’s memory. They established the Yoshi Foundation with their son’s life insurance and other donations, and the Yoshi’s Gift Award Foundation with the compensation they received from the civil case.

Every year, the Yoshi Foundation invites U.S. junior high school students to Japan, they said.

They also plan to hold lectures once a month in junior high schools in Aichi Prefecture.

On the gun issue, the Hattoris said, “We want to appeal especially to young people whose mind-sets are not yet fixed.”