Yoshihiro Hattori's parents step down from Yoshi Coalition after 30-year battle for gun control in US

Yoshihiro Hattori's parents step down from Yoshi Coalition after 30-year battle for gun control in US
Yoshihiro Hattori was shot by the owner of a home in Baton Rouge on October 17, 1992 (Carleton College)

NAGOYA, JAPAN: Masaichi and Mieko Hattori, the Japanese parents of a 16-year-old who died from gun violence 30 years ago in Louisana, hope the younger generation will continue their protracted battle for gun control in the US as  they marked the anniversary of their son's death on October 18, Tuesday, reported Kyodo news.

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Masaichi and Mieko Hattori, whose son Yoshihiro was shot by the owner of a home in Baton Rouge on October 17, 1992, after he accidentally went there for a Halloween party, formed the Yoshi Coalition with the help of their friends to demand more stringent gun laws in the US. The couple will soon be retiring as advisors on the coalition which advocates for tighter gun control laws.

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Masaichi, 75, said, "I hope they would reach out more to US officials," expressing hope that the next generation will be proactive in leading the battle. His 74-year-old wife said the pair will now have time to mourn their son's passing on their own terms.

Yoshihiro, an exchange student at McKinley Senior High School, was shot by Rodney Peairs when he walked into his home believing it to be the location of a Halloween party a few houses away. Peairs told the boys to "Freeze!" when they entered the backyard of his home wearing Halloween costumes. Hattori proceeded in his direction and was shot, as he clearly did not understand the order.

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During a gathering at a church in Baton Rouge on Sunday, Yoshihiro's host mother Holley Haymaker and others recalled him, saying, "Yoshi was an excellent exchange student, pleasant, lively, and full of curiosity about his new environment."

Yoshihiro enjoyed jazz dancing and was a part of the rugby team in Japan. He was studying jazz dancing. He dressed like John Travolta for the occasion, Haymaker remarked, referring to the popular disco film 'Saturday Night Fever' actor. The Hattori family sent a message to the event, saying, “Thanks to many people in Louisiana my son’s dream of making America his second country has come true.”

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The parents organized the Yoshi Coalition with the help of their friends to demand more stringent gun laws in the US. They will shortly step down as advisors. The group has funded organizations working to stop gun violence in the United States using the settlement money they earned in a civil suit against the shooter. They have also started a Yoshihiro-named foundation to aid American high school students who are studying in Japan. Since 1994, the foundation has hosted 31 students in Japan.

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The parents have also talked in front of an audience at a number of lectures in Japan in the years since the passing of their son. The incident has also been covered in books, CDs, and a documentary film. Masaichi reflected on the preceding 30 years in the US, where despite efforts to tighten gun control, there has still been a high level of gun violence. Peairs said he used the revolver in self-defense because he was afraid of running into an unauthorized person wearing a disguise. Despite being cleared in a criminal trial, he was compelled to pay the Hattoris $653,000 in damages after losing a civil lawsuit.

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Yoshihiro was a sophomore at Nagoya's Asahigaoka Senior High School. As soon as they learned of their son's passing, the parents took off for Louisiana. On her flight back to Japan, Mieko said that despite her inability to accept the truth of her son's murder at the time, she was already getting ready to organize a demonstration in support of more stringent gun laws in the United States.

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She handed out campaign flyers to attendees at her son's burial because she was adamant that his death would not go in vain. At a meeting with the then-US president Bill Clinton in 1993, she delivered the 1.8 million signatures gathered throughout the petition drive.

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Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.

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