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Translation: A letter from an American 4th grader to PM Abe on peace

Special Translation: A letter from an American 4th grader to Prime Minister Abe about being a leader in the crusade against all wars (draft)


Background: According to various sources in the Japanese news media, in late April through early May (presumably)of this year, on the occasion of the Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) held at the UN Headquarters in New York, a group of Hibakushas from Japan (those victims who were directly exposed to and suffered the effects of a nuclear bomb blast or radiation; a.k.a. "the A-bomb sufferer") visited the UN both as guests in the Conference and as part of their advocacy campaign to abolish nuclear weapons.

During their stay in New York, one of the participants to the Conference and the sole victims organization in Japan, Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A-Bomb and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization) organized a lecture program in New York's elementary schools to have actual Hibakushas talk about their actual experience with the A-Bomb. One of them was Sumiteru Taniguchi, a 86-year-old survivor from Nagasaki who visited possibly to make his final statement to the world. (See: )

During his lecture session in the local schools, Mr. Taniguchi reportedly met a local American boy who was deeply affected by his tragic experience, who became so intrigued by the subject that he visited Mr. Taniguchi in his hotel room for a private interview.

After the interview and his experience in reporting the results of that interview to his classmates, the boy reportedly wrote a hand-written letter addressed to Prime Minister Abe, and handed it to the members of Hidankyo praying it will reach Mr. Abe.

The original hand-written letter is yet to be discovered, but an electronic typed-out version of the letter appeared in one of the anti-nuclear advocacy group's website (the Gensuikyo website). The letter, presumably translated from English to Japanese, is only available in Japanese.

So I decided to reverse-translate the (presumably) originally English-written letter into English.

Below is a draft translation of that letter, originally written by Lewis Lorentz (spelling could be incorrect), an amazing nine-year-old American-Japanese boy from New York who pleaded to PM. Abe not to end the proud and precious legacy of Japan's unique pacifism.

I do not know the level of vocabulary of an ordinary fourth-grader in today's America, but I will do my best to imagine and depict how a nine-year-old would plead for and preach peace to another nation's leader.


Dear Mr. Prime Minister Abe,

My name is Lewis Lorentz.

I am nine years old.

I live in Manhattan, New York and I attend a supplementary school during Saturdays to learn Japanese.

When I was seven, I visited the Holocaust Memorial in Washington D.C. and learned about the sad history of the Jewish people during the Second World War.

I wanted to know why such a horrible thing could happen and I began studying about it.

Then I learned about the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wanted to learn more about the atom bomb so I asked my mother to buy me a book on the atom bomb. But all it was written in the book was about the kinds of bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how they ended the war.

I wanted to know more.

So I asked my mom to take me to Hiroshima when I was eight years old. And I went to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. I was so afraid but I wouldn't know the truth if I don't have a good look at it. So I gathered my courage and had a good look.

There were many horrible pictures. I couldn't believe such thing could happen just 69 years ago. And I learned about a nuclear bomb that has 250 times the power of the atom bomb and that there are many of these nuclear bombs all around the world.

When I came home to New York, I asked my classmates if they knew about the horrible things that happened there.

Nobody knew about it.

Half of my classmates are American and half are from Europe. So if they don't know, then may be most of the kids around the world don't know about the nuclear bomb.

That made me really sad.

I am not a very good talker, so I thought about how I can tell about the stories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As a result, I came up with the idea to write a book explaining about the nuclear bomb that is easy for kids to understand; a book that tells the story about a "world without wars" or "world without nuclear weapons" and a" peaceful world where all countries can be friends" that I always dream about.

And with the money I made from selling my books, I thought about buying books on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and donate them to grade schools all around the world.

I met a Hibakusha who was visiting New York and a physician who has been treating the Hibakusha's mental well-being, because I bumped in to things I don't understand when I was studying, and I wanted to find out if these things that I'm studying really happened.

I asked him how hot it was.

He said metals melted in just three seconds.

He said human skin and flesh also melted in just three seconds.

When you broil a fish, it takes about 3 minutes for the fish to turn dark. Three minutes is 130 seconds. So you can see how hot the atom bomb was. And when you broil a fish, the flesh doesn't melt off.

I also asked him how much pain he was in.

He said it was beyond the limit of pain he could stand.

Taniguchi-san, a Hibakusha, hasn't been able to sleep well for seventy years even after his wounds healed.

Taniguchi-san said that he's seen hundreds of flies laying eggs in his wounds and maggots growing out of them immediately and crawling into his own body. He said he felt the pain of his rotten flesh being eaten by them.

I asked him why he didn't move so that flies will fly away.

He answered, " I couldn't move an inch with so much pain and I wasn't in a state to even think about moving."

If a maggot was eating off my body, it would be so disgusting and I would be so afraid. So I couldn't imagine what kind of state he was in when you can't even think about that.

He showed me his back, all bumpy with burns, and his chest, all rotten to his bones and deformed, and his heart, stuck between the rotten bones, but still beating.

When I saw them, I was so frightened that I couldn't come near him for a while.

Why does Taniguchi-san have to go through such a horrible life? He did nothing wrong?

It made me really, really sad.

The physician who has been treating the mental being of Hibakusha patient said, "The Hibakusha can only talk about one-tenths of what actually happened. Their experience was too horrible that they can't tell everything."

It frightened me that this was only one-tenths of the truth and made me think. How horrible would it be if they told hundred percent of their story?

The day after I visited the UN (April 28), I presented in my class about what I learned from my interview with the Hibakusha at the UN.

My first question was,

"How many people know about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?"

But there was no one in the class who knew about it.

It made me so sad that I had to hold my tears in my eyes while my voice trembled.

On May 7, I had one another chance to present to the class.

I was going to tell the truth about the atom bomb to everyone. But the Principle stopped me in the middle of my presentation.

But at the end of my presentation, I still managed to tell them that I hoped for peaceful world without wars. I could only talk about like 5 percent of what I really wanted to tell. I really wanted to finish the presentation.

I heard that Mr. Prime Minister Abe is trying to change the laws so that Japan's Self-Defense Force can participate in wars. I said, "That's a lie! It can't be true!" Then my mother showed my one of Japans TV news programs.

It wasn't a lie. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Seventy years ago, the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was killed like bugs. I can't even kill a bug. But they died for OUR peaceful of future. They died proving how dreadful a war can be.

If Japan's Self-Defense Forces are to participate in wars, why did so many people die and suffer in that war in the first place? What for? Why are you repeating the same thing?

Japan should be a leader telling the world that, as the only country that has been attacked by a nuclear bomb, say "no to all wars".

If Japan is to participate wars, the whole world will think that they can also participate because Japan is also joining! That's the same as saying, "Going to war is not a bad thing but a good thing. So killing people is a good thing!"

If Japan is to participate in wars, countries all over the world will start going to wars and the Earth will become a planet of wars!

And then, the Earth will perish.

For world peace, Japan should never participate in any wars. Wars kill people. It destroys everything. It doesn't solve anything. Instead it creates bigger problems.

Children around the world don't even know about the horrors of the atomic bomb or wars. The only people who really knows how frightful they are, are the Japanese people.

To make the world a peaceful place, only Japanese people can tell the world how truly terrifying a war is. Japan must always remain a role model to the rest of the world.

Translation by: Office BALÉS

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