NHK’s “News Watch 9” reported yesterday evening on its interview with Ambassador Kennedy held at her residence earlier in the day. The program said the Ambassador stressed the significance of President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in May by saying: “I think it was incredibly important for the American people, just as it was for the people of Japan.” Airing footage of the Ambassador arriving in Japan three years ago, the program said she mentioned in her first video message to Japan her visit to Hiroshima in 1978 and talked about how the visit led her to desire to work for a better and peaceful world. The program said the Ambassador began to hope that President Obama would visit Hiroshima, quoting her as saying: “I went to Hiroshima eight times, so I became more convinced of the importance of the President’s visit. While I was very much in favor of his visit, it was really his decision.”
Noting that there is a deep-rooted view within the U.S. that the atomic bombing helped end the war and that there were concerns that a visit to Hiroshima by the President would face criticism, the Ambassador explained that there have been conversations about the idea at the White House, the State Department, and the Japanese government for many years. Noting that Secretary Kerry’s visit to the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima helped make the President’s visit possible, the program quoted her as saying: “I think it made a tremendously powerful impression on him. He strongly recommended to the President that he also visit Hiroshima if he had a chance.” Concerning President Obama’s speech in Hiroshima, the Ambassador said: “I traveled to Hiroshima with him. I was able to see him working on his remarks in the plane. He was making changes, so this is something he put a great deal of thought into and was deeply important to him. I think he was really overwhelmed by the welcome that he received and very emotional about meeting the hibakusha and touring the museum.” Concerning the origami cranes the President presented to children in Hiroshima, the Ambassador reportedly said he folded the cranes himself with some help. “When he presented the cranes to the children, that was a special moment because it passed on this desire for peace to the next generation,” she said. Lastly, the Ambassador explained that she will not be able to attend the peace memorial ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki this year because she has work to do in Washington, but that she looks forward to visiting both cities in the fall. News Watch 9 Anchor Kono, who interviewed the Ambassador, said there is speculation that the President is considering major nuclear disarmament policies, such as declaring a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons, expressing hope that the President will leave another legacy in terms of nuclear disarmament.