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Full text of ex-Hiroshima Mayor Akiba's letter to Trump

Former Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba's letter to Trump. (Mainichi)

The following is the full text of a letter sent by former Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.


Dear President-elect Donald Trump,

As former mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, I would like to congratulate you upon your historic victory in this year's U.S. presidential election. Keenly aware that your decisions on matters related to nuclear weapons will affect everybody in the world and especially those of us living in Hiroshima, we, Hiroshima citizens and hibakusha (A-bomb survivors), expect these decisions to be wise and peaceable. Since the nuclear issue is delicate and complicated, you may find the perspectives of those from one of the nuclear issue's hot spots useful as you formulate the policy applicable to this area.

First of all, those of us frustrated by the lack of diplomatic progress vis-a-vis North Korea applaud your announcement during the campaign that you would be willing to talk with North Korea. This alone would put you in a unique category that separates you from other U.S. presidents of recent years. Combining this with your stance that the U.S. would no longer act as the "policeman of the world," we logically come to the conclusion that although you would retain U.S. strength in the world, you would first rely on diplomacy to solve international problems. We also feel relieved to hear that you would not encourage Japan and South Korea to acquire their own nuclear weapons.

One natural question that follows is, "What would you say when you talk with North Korea?" Of course, you would not encourage North Korea to expand its nuclear arsenal. Rather, we all expect that you would convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. Guaranteeing that Japan and South Korea would not acquire nuclear weapons would be one incentive for North Korea to accept your request. However, that would be basically where we stand now. In order for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, it seems desirable that there be something more that North Korea would consider its "gain."

What about offering the assurance that the U.S. would not use nuclear weapons against North Korea? Please note that the U.S. would not lose anything by such an assurance. Let me explain. First, we know for a fact that the U.S. would not launch nuclear attacks on Japan or South Korea. Secondly, it would be very unlikely that the U.S. would use atomic weapons on China or Russia because such an action would bring about a massive nuclear exchange that would lead to the end of the world. Under these assumptions, what would be the point of threatening to use nuclear weapons against North Korea alone in the area? Would it be to deter North Korean threats to the U.S.? If so, what threats? When North Korea no longer possesses nuclear weapons or missiles that could successfully carry such weapons to the U.S. mainland, there would no longer be any direct threats to the U.S. And when you implement your policy of the U.S. not acting as "the policeman of the world," there will no longer be such "policemen" outside of the U.S. mainland, either. No threats and no use of nuclear weapons.

As you well know, a long-term solution to a difficult problem is often framed in a symmetric structure. While North Korea becomes safe from nuclear attack from all sides, Japan and South Korea need more protection. To make the whole situation symmetrical, all that is necessary is that Russia promises not to use nuclear weapons against Japan and South Korea, as China declared a non-first use policy a long time ago. Perhaps persuading Russia along these lines might be a good starting point between you and Mr. Putin.

If these rather simple arrangements are made, the picture would be something like this: Among the six countries of Northeast Asia, three in the center, South and North Korea and Japan, would have no nuclear weapons. The outer three, China, Russia and the U.S. would promise that they would not use nuclear weapons against the three in the center.

Let me emphasize the fact that such a scenario is consistent with what you have said so far about nuclear weapons and the fact only you among recent U.S. presidents are bold enough to turn a new page. When you succeed you will have realized an earth-shaking result. To be more specific, by creating a "Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone," your presidency would be the first to have eliminated the necessity of the U.S. having to police the area constantly, thus accomplishing your goal of reducing the role of the U.S. as policeman of the world. We are hopeful that such success would be followed by many similar achievements in other parts of the world during your presidency.

Finally, let me conclude this letter by inviting you to visit Hiroshima and/or Nagasaki. I know that because of your magnetic personality you would have a warm rapport with the hibakusha you would meet in Hiroshima or Nagasaki. However, you are a busy person. If time is a problem, please invite those hibakusha living in the United States to meet you. They are mostly American citizens of Japanese descent who happened to be attending schools in Hiroshima when the A-bomb was dropped. Although President Obama did not mention them in his Hiroshima speech, their struggles are worth listening to. They can tell you in English their heart-wrenching experiences and a message that would produce hope in the future. I would recommend that you take the initiative to meet with them because I believe that the encounter would most likely change your view about war and the meaning of survival.

Thank you.


Tadatoshi Akiba

Former Mayor of Hiroshima

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