Global Independent Analytics

Obama to make historic visit to Hiroshima

President Obama will make a trip to Hiroshima, Japan, on May 27, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site of the world’s first atomic bombing

David Nakamura for The Washington Post reports: The White House formally announced the visit Tuesday after weeks of speculation that Obama would stop in the city after attending the Group of 7 economic summit in Ise-Shima. The president is expected to deliver a speech on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will join Obama on the visit, where the president will "highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," the White House said in a statement.

However, Obama’s administration specifically added that there will be no presidential apology for the U.S. decision to drop the atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, which killed an estimated 140,000 people in Hiroshima. Three days later, a second atomic bomb killed up to 80,000 people in Nagasaki.

"He will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II," White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said in a blog post. "Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future."

Observers and analysts have called the visit inessential, while calling the Obama’s move an apology for an act that helped bring the war started by Japan to a quicker end, saving lives of U.S. service members. But the White House believed the time was right, in Obama's final year, to make a grand symbolic statement toward the president's disarmament goals that he announced during his first year in office. His aides added that despite Obama’s modest progress in this effort, the trip would allow the president to focus international attention on the issue at a time when presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has suggested Japan and South Korea develop their own nuclear weapon arsenals in the face of threats from North Korea.

Rhodes emphasized that Obama will pay homage to U.S. service members who fought in World War II: "Their cause was just, and we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude."

He added that "the visit will also symbolize how far the United States and Japan have come in building a deep and abiding alliance based on mutual interests, shared values, and an enduring spirit of friendship between our peoples."

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

Japan should be aware of the extreme insensitivity of President Obama and ask itself whether it must remain a loyal partner of the US while the former cannot even bother to apologize for committing one of the worse atrocities of the 20th century.  Moreover, precisely at a time when Obama has been placing nuclear bombers in Germany and nuclear missiles in Europe, his lack of regret or sadness over the unspeakable horror and crime against humanity in Hiroshima and Nagasaki raises a concern whether the US learned from the past or does it intend to use nuclear weapons in the future. So far, US is the only country in history to actually use the atom bomb against helpless children, men and women, causing immense scaring that will leave a mark in Japanese consciousness for another 1,000 years at least. The historical reason given was the need to frighten the Soviet Union. That’s as if I will kill a hundred innocent babies just to scare off my opponent.  Moreover, with all the talk of the catastrophe in Chernobyl which was caused by human error and not intentionally, there has been no talk at all of the Vietnamese innocent victims of Agent Orange used by the US army. How many more innocent people will be exposed to biological, nuclear or atomic weapons by the US? And can the world really afford to allow the US to cause such immense suffering and not even apologize for it, or is it time to move to a multipolar world?

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