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Pair who lost son in U.S. shooting write Obama

Chunichi Shimbun

Since the Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, calls for stricter gun control are gaining momentum in the United States.

To support the move, Mieko and Masaichi Hattori, whose son, Yoshihiro, was gunned down at age 16 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1992, have written to U.S. President Barack Obama in English, urging him to “listen to the voices calling for (stricter) gun control.”

Last October, on the 20th anniversary of their son’s death, Hattori and her husband, both 65, made a speech at a memorial ceremony in Baton Rouge.

At the time, the Nagoya residents felt they had done everything they could to push for tighter gun control in the U.S. But the Newtown carnage occurred only two months later, and Obama immediately started to push for stricter gun control immediately after the shootings.

Thinking there may be more they can do, the couple decided to draft a three-page letter to the president. In it, they state their advocacy for stricter gun control so that their son’s life will not have been lost in vain, and warned a similar tragedy to the Sandy Hook killings will happen again unless the United States takes immediate action.

“Many Americans think they have guns to protect themselves from the fear. But is that direction right? We believe not. It is not a good way to proceed,” the letter said.

It also touched on how their son, who was on his way to a Halloween party, was shot after going to the wrong house, and how the Hattoris have been backing moves to impose stricter gun control in the U.S ever since. A picture of Yoshihiro Hattori was enclosed with the letter.

The letter further cited an American high school boy who came to Japan as an exchange student through a fund established by the couple to commemorate their son.

“I thought there is a hint in the life in Japan to make the U.S. better. The greatest thing is that Japanese have no idea to protect themselves by guns, because they do not have guns at home and in their daily lives,” the letter quoted the high school student as saying. “There trust towards each other isn’t lost and this is their main protection.”

The couple entrusted the letter to officials at the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya, which forwarded it to the White House in early February. The Hattoris don’t know if Obama has actually read the letter.

“I hope the U.S. would ultimately find a way to be able to live safely without resorting to guns, like in Japan,” said the husband. “As a starter, I want the U.S. to impose (a reinforced) gun registration system.”

“Although Japan and the U.S. have different cultures, I am confident that our message will be conveyed,” his wife said.

Tougher gun controls and, ultimately, banning gun possession by civilians, as is the case in Japan, are the solutions to increase respect of the U.S. worldwide, the Hattoris wrote in conclusion.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the local Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published March 7.