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Issey Miyake asks Obama to visit Hiroshima


Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, has urged US President Barack Obama to visit the city on the anniversary of the attack as part of his drive to rid the world of nuclear arms.

"I realized that I have, perhaps now more than ever, a personal and moral responsibility to speak out as one who survived what Mr. Obama called the 'flash of light,'" the designer wrote in an opinion piece published in the International Herald Tribune on Wednesday.

He said he hoped Obama would accept an invitation by the southern port city to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the bombing on August 6.

"If Mr. Obama could walk across the Peace Bridge in Hiroshima ... it would be both a real and a symbolic step toward creating a world that knows no fear of nuclear threat," the 71-year-old designer added.

Miyake, who witnessed the attack when he was seven years old, shared his memories for the first time -- something he said he had not done before because he "did not want to be labeled 'the designer who survived the atomic bomb.'"

"When I close my eyes, I still see things no one should ever experience: a bright red light, the black cloud soon after, people running in every direction trying desperately to escape -- I remember it all," he wrote.

His mother died from radiation exposure within three years of the attack.

The bombing killed an estimated 140,000 people by the end of 1945, either instantly or from radiation or horrific burns, and many more afterwards.

The US dropped a second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki three days later, killing more than 70,000 people. Japan surrendered less than a week later, ending World War II.

No sitting US president has visited the Hiroshima memorial, although Jimmy Carter visited after leaving office and Richard Nixon came as a private citizen between his stints as vice president and president.

Obama has pledged to eliminate nuclear arms and last week agreed with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on a roadmap to reduce their nuclear stockpiles.

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