October 14, 1998
Professor Kohchi Akira
Dear Professor Akira,
It is sir, with profound sadness that I write to you. I have read your book Why I Survived the A-Bomb. My soul has been stirred by your words of life, death, memories, lamentation and hope. Now what words can I use to express the magnitude of my anguish and regret over the death of so many innocent souls in your city of Hiroshima? And how in the name of God do I answer your Uncle Goros most important question of "why" would the Americans bomb innocent civilians? Such a difficult task is now before me and I am aware that no mere words can replace the 214, 096 departed lives of loved ones that now remain as only memories in the hearts of you and your people.
Life is precious; whether it is our own, or that of someone else. That is the standard by which civilized man lives. The American people are as your dear Uncle Goro said from his nuclear death bed incapable of such a horrendous crime against humanity. They would never as individuals commit such an act against the dignity of life as the Atomic Bombing of men, women, and children. But governments would. Our government did. Perhaps, had your government possessed such a terrible device they would have too been willing to use it as a last desperate measure of defending your island nation. For there is no doubt that governments based upon war time measures become the enemy of all mankind, their own people included.
War is the vehicle whereby the most vicious and brutal of men ride to power. They did so in my country and it was so in your country. War is most always the tool of tyrants, schemers, profiteers, and those with hidden interests. It is always greeted with glee by those who will not fight in it but rather advance their interest. Power is assimilated by such men then used to the utter woe of decent mankind.
In the United States of the 1930s there came to power men who cried "peace" "peace" as they planned, plotted, and prepared for war. The American people never understood this, and indeed even today most remain ignorant of their countrys prewar policy. For such is the power of government. It is a remarkable fact that good people often have bad governments. The American people are renown for their kindness, love, and concern for their fellow mankind. Paradoxically, the American government has in this century become the mad bomber of the world. World War II was only the beginning of power for such men in our country not the end. American bombers under the control of such men run from country to country seeing whom they may bomb into oblivion, enforcing the will of depraved men upon the rest of mankind. Through manipulation, thought control, restriction of information and deceit the government here in the United States maintains its control, support, and blind obedience of unknowing and unthinking citizens.
It is an easy matter for men to see the evil in others, men find it near impossible to see it in themselves.
Perhaps I can only answer your loved ones question as to "why" with the example of my own loved ones life. My father fought in World War II. Though he participated in, and saw much death and destruction, he himself was a kind man who was committed his whole life to helping others who were unable to help themselves. Even the lowly Indians in our country who lived under bridges destitute, received his compassion and charity. For he could stand to see no man suffer needlessly if he could prevent it. Orphanages, churches, beggars, all new at one time or another his compassion. How then does a government take such a man and turn him into its blind servant, obedient and willing to kill others labeled as the "enemy?" And millions of other young men like him? And pilots who fly planes with A-bombs on them, and technicians who fire unmanned cruise missals into masses of huddling people? The answer is: manipulation, lies, deceit, half-truths, fear, anger, and force. This is the bitter way good men are made to kill.
So my people of the United States, and your people of Japan, who are not of the class who benefit and profit from war while never fighting in it, must refuse to ever again follow the dictates of governments without conscience. We must always stand for decency, kindness, and understanding no matter how much "popular" public opinion has been manipulated to support malevolent government goals.
For our country not only violated its own law (the Hague Convention, 1907) by this unmerciful bombing of non-military targets, but furthermore violated its honour, conscience and manifest destiny of justice to all men when it killed over 200,000 civilian non-combatants. If there is a God, and I believe there is, I fear that one day He will call this country to atone for its blindness. Let us hope we can bring others to see.
Someday, a day in the not too distant future, I would like to walk with you down the road of tears that you traveled on August 6, 1945 as you made your way into the bowels of hell that was Hiroshima. Perhaps that walk can help us and others like us to understand the terrible consequences to be paid by those who blindly follow both the victor and the vanquished. For while the burning searing heat of the A-bomb destroyed the lives and homes of people in Hiroshima, it also has destroyed forever any claim to innocence America may have possessed. For how does any sane, decent, thinking human being, excuse the deaths of 70,948 children ages fourteen and under as a justified war measure?
We must all learn to think and reason for ourselves. For those things which are so clear to a thinking person, are totally out of the realm of consideration for a blind person. I, and many other Americans like me are not blind, and we will forever, thanks to your heart rendering book, see before us the image of a toddler, cup in hand, climbing a mound of rubble to a broken water pipe and returning to the prostrate body of his mother seared by heat and radiation, to lovingly pour water upon her face while uttering "good" "good." Let us, and decent men everywhere, with all our might seek to insure that this small childs last words are the beginning of something new. "Good."
I wish you and your people well.