On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima. Three days later, another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The bombs caused horrific devastation and took many innocent lives.
Up till today, over 400,000 people have died as a consequence of the atomic bombings. These were cruel and indiscriminate attacks the U.S. military launched against civilians.
On May 27 Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima.
After the end of World War II, Japan and the U.S. became allies beyond resentment and forged a partnership. Obama’s visit to ground zero will signify an important juncture in the long reconciliation process the two countries have been through. His decision is worthy of praise and is expected to lead to a stronger partnership between Japan and the U.S.
Assistant to the President Ben Rhodes issued a statement saying that “the U.S. is responsible for pursing a world free of nuclear weapons as the only country that dropped atomic bombs.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted: “I believe that if the leaders of the atomic-bombed nation and the country that used nuclear weapons together offer their condolences, we can respond to the feelings of the victims and those who still suffer.”
That the two leaders will join hands together in Hiroshima will send a strong message toward nuclear nonproliferation. In addition, making an impression that the U.S. places weight on Asia and the Japan-U.S. alliance remains strong will contribute to the stability in East Asia.
With the world moving to slash nuclear arms, experts point out that China is ramping up the production of nuclear weaponry. Meanwhile, North Korea continues its nuclear tests in defiance of the sanctions imposed by the international community and unilaterally announced that is a “responsible, nuclear power.” The nuclear environment in East Asia poses a greater risk.
China, which uses anti-Japanese sentiment to unify the nation, is wary that Obama’s visit to Hiroshima may make Japan a “war victim.” This means that it is hoping the Japan-U.S. relationship goes wobbly.
The groundwork for Obama’s visit to Hiroshima was well laid. In August, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy attended a peace memorial ceremony there. In April, Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Atomic Bomb Dome. In America there is a lingering belief that the atomic bombings accelerated the end of the war. The decision of Obama’s visit to Hiroshima was made closely gauging public opinion. We urge Obama to also visit Nagasaki.
Obama’s visiting Nagasaki would demonstrate to the world his commitment to nonproliferation and the firmness of the Japan-U.S. alliance.