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Soviet Leader Gorbachev Answers Japanese Girl’s Letter

January 9, 1986

TOKYO (AP) _ A 12-year-old Japanese girl soon will be getting a reply from Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to a letter she wrote expressing hope for peace between the superpowers, the girl’s mother said today.

In 1983, Samantha Smith, of Manchester, Maine, wrote a similar letter to then Soviet leader Yuri V. Andropov. The letter led to an invitation from Andropov for Samantha to visit the Soviet Union.

Samantha was killed in a plane crash Aug. 25, 1985, and the Soviet Union recently issued a stamp commemorating her.

The contents of Gorbachev’s reply to the letter written by Aiko Fukuda were not known yet, said the girl’s mother, Akemi, in a telephone interview.

She said Aiko, a sixth grade student at Higashiga elementary school in Nagoya, central Japan, was told by the Soviet Embassy in Tokyo that Gorbachev’s letter had arrived at the embassy and would be handed to her in Nagoya by an embassy first secretary on Friday.

After learning from her father, Kazuo, about the Geneva summit meeting between Gorbachev and President Reagan last November, Mrs. Fukuda said, Aiko wrote the Soviet letter last month:

″Hello, I am a 12-year-old Japanese girl. I am glad to learn that the general secretary met with the U.S. president. I hope peace will be achieved more and more. Christmas will come soon and I am awaiting a present from you. I will study Russian more. I hope you are all right.″

Aiko began last April studying Russian language once a week at Chukyo University, which has a class open to the public.

Aiko told a teacher in the class about her wish to write to Gorbachev, and a friend of the teacher, Professor Hiroshi Yasumura of Chukyo University, translated her letter into Russian.

Mrs. Fukuda said her daughter was happy to hear about the reply letter, but became nervous when reporters came to her house for interviews.

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