LIHU’E — Yoshihiro Hattori was 16 years old when he went to Baton Rouge, La.,
an exchange student from Japan and recipient of a Morita Foundation
On Oct. 18, 1992, he approached the wrong house while looking
for a Halloween Party and was shot to death by the owner. From that time on,
“Yoshi’s” parents have been supporting the gun control movement in the United
The Hattori’s will share their story on Kaua’i at the Lihu’e
Library on July 6, 5-8 p.m. Their presentation will include the video “The Shot
Heard Round the World.”
Yoshi’s father, Masaichi, and his mother, Mieko
Hattori began their campaign for gun control on the plane while bringing their
son’s body home to Japan.
Mieko reflected on something she had heard
Yoshihiro’s host brother said in Baton Rouge: “I will write to Mr. Clinton, a
candidate for the next presidency, that my friend from Japan has become a
victim of the gun culture of America, and I urge you to change this situation
regarding guns in the United States.”
Mieko said these words inspired her
to write a draft petition for removing guns from households in the United
States during the flight.
Petition signing began at Yoshi’s wake in Japan
while Yoshi’s host family in Louisiana, the Haymakers, ran the petition
campaign simultaneously in the U.S.
In two months together they had
collected over one million signatures and when they met with Pres. Bill Clinton
on Nov. 16, 1993, they handed him 1.7 million signatures from Japan and 250,000
petitions collected in the U.S. asking for tougher gun control in America.
During the Hattoris’ visit to Washington, D.C. in November, the Brady Bill
was passed in Congress.
The Yoshi Coalition was formed after the shooting
tragedy. It supported the Hattoris’ petition drive economically as well as in
gathering signatures. Mieko Hattori wrote a poem entitled “Yoshi” and
singer-songwriter Akemi Mano, a member of the coalition, created music for the
The coalition produced and sold compact discs of “Yoshi” and profits
from the sales were used to send four people, including Yoshi’s parents, to
Washington, D.C. with the petitions.
In 1995, the Association of Lawyers
in Nagoya awarded the coalition the Human Rights Award in recognition of their
contribution to passing the Brady Bill and to supporting the movement in both
the United States and Japan to build a society without guns.
continues to raise funds by organizing public lectures and other events, and
through the Yoshi Gift Foundation, awards two $3,000 gifts each year to groups
working on gun control.
The Yoshi Gift Foundation was created from money
won in a civil case filed by the Hattoris against Rodney Peairs, the man who
shot Yoshi Hattori, and his home owners insurance company.
In a jury trial
Peairs had been found not guilty of manslaughter in the shooting incident,
based on his claim that he felt threatened and shot in self-defense.
in the subsequent civil trial the court ruled that Peairs violated Louisiana
law requiring special precaution for use of firearms, and it also ruled that
Yoshi’s actions were “not at fault” and the claim of self-defense was not
On Sept. 15, 1994, the parents of Yoshihiro Hattori won the
civil case with the amount of $653,000 as the compensation.
$100,000 paid by the insurance company, the Hattoris received about $45,000
after the lawyer’s fees and expenses had been paid, and with this they created
Yoshi’s Gift Foundation. The Hattoris hope that, with the help of Yoshi’s Gift,
many gun control groups will “grow up and become stronger lobby groups against
Through the Yoshi Foundation, founded in June 1993 after the
tragedy, one student every year from the U.S. experiences Japanese society with
the hope that they will get a deeper understanding of a culture where guns are
not a necessity.
The fund consists of 10 million yen out of Yoshi’s life
insurance and the donations from diverse groups and people, managed by AFS
Japan. The student lives with a host family and attends high school in Japan.
Every year, Yoshi’s parents meet with the student to tell them about
Yoshi’s misfortune, “with the hope that small efforts can bring world peace if
little by little,” Mieko said.
Mieko Hattori spoke at the Million Mom March
last May in Washington, D.C.
She said, “After my son’s death, many
Americans supported us so that my son’s life isn’t in vain.” She especially
commended the Haymakers, Yoshi’s host family, for always being there for them.
“All of these supportive people to us are the real conscience in America. We
Japanese stand by Americans like you and will keep on supporting you from
For more information about the Hattoris’ visit to Kaua’i call
Noriaki Fujimori of Waimea Higashi Hongwanji at 338-1847 or Hiroko Merritt of
Waimea Baptist Church at 338-1227.