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Hiroshima survivors look to Obama visit for nuclear disarmament, not apology

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By Kiyoshi Takenaka

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A presidential apology would be controversial in the United States, where a majority view the bombing of Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945, and of the city of Nagasaki three days later, as justified to end the war and save U.S lives.

Imagine the fall out not just in the US but throughout the region here. Abe could very well be forced into a position of having to apologize formally to the victims throughout Asia. From that alone I would love to hear Obama apologize and see Abe squirm.

The vast majority of Japanese think the bombings were unjustified.

When the younger generations have been raised to think of themselves as victims it's not hard to understand this position.

Tsukishita wants Obama, who received the Nobel Peace Prize

Please, while Obama may have won the prize, he did nothing that deserved it.

1 ( +12 / -12 )

A U.S. warplane dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing thousands of people instantly and about 140,000 by the end of that year. Nagasaki was bombed on Aug 9, 1945, and Japan surrendered six days later.

Well, I suppose if that was all I knew of the thing, I too would think the atomic attacks were unjustified.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

This is a healthy idea and our way of Japan. Leave the unproductive jobs of demanding apologies to other countries to Korea and China.

-4 ( +9 / -13 )

while Obama may have won the prize, he did nothing that deserved it.

He did two things, both important.

First, he wasn't Bush.

Second, he wasn't white.

-2 ( +1 / -2 )

And yet to read comments from the peanut gallery, for many people it seems a visit by the President would be considered tantamount to an apology regardless of what he actually says.

Black SabbathAPR. 14, 2016 - 07:04AM JST Well, I suppose if that was all I knew of the thing, I too would think the atomic attacks were unjustified.

Let's not pretend the misinformation doesn't go both ways. I tend to find Americans are often shockingly uninformed about the complexity of the atomic bombings. The Japanese Imperial army committed acts of such atrocity that many Americans just assume our ancestors acting in opposition to them made them equivalently moral. They must invent ways to imagine that every civilian killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nonetheless somehow responsible for the IJA. Our whole mythology around WWII is so built up around a fantastic struggle between good and evil that it makes a depressingly large portion of Americans extremely uncomfortable to even imagine there was ever a shade of grey.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Katsu

In my experience, the more facilely someone answers the question of whether the atomic attacks were justified, the less they've thought about it.

I've come to the conclusion that attacks as they were carried out were immoral. And necessary. And therefore justified.

Which is the nature of war. Just wars --which we fought and Imperial Japan did not -- are still marred by immoral acts.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Obama, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in part for his push for nuclear disarmament,

This still makes me angry. He "won" (was given as a political gift) the prize literally for giving a few speeches, when others have worked their whole lives for peace and didn't win. What a load of cr@p.

3 ( +8 / -6 )

Progress on ridding the world of nuclear weapons, not an apology, is what Hiroshima would want from a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama

If it is true that the Hiroshima survivors as a group do not seek apologies, then there position has changed greatly from what it was just a decade ago.

In 2005, Japan's TBS Television aired a documentary roughly translated as "a man who developed and dropped the atomic bomb visits Hiroshima for the first time" (原爆を開発・投下した男初の広島...). The documentary featured Harold Agnew, who flew as a scientific observer on the Hiroshima bombing mission, visiting Hiroshima for the first time. Toward the end of the documentary they had him sit down with two Hiroshima survivors who asked him for an apology, which he refused to give. It was a tense moment to say the least.

Of course, the documentary played up the Japan as victim agenda, and edited out parts where Agnew spoke of atrocities committed by Japan. The producers of the documentary pretty much ambushed Agnew in trying to extract an apology from him.

Here is the documentary (9' 43", English/Japanese subtitles). The apology part starts from the 6' 45" mark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNxQpDcYHKU

5 ( +10 / -5 )

If only we could have a nuclear weapon free world! More nations wouldn't agree to this as to those who would. Then we have the nations like Iran moving forward to develope a weapon. Visiting the site wouldn't change most strong arm rulers into disarmament.

Obama was given a gift in receiving the Nobel peace prize. Race, religeon or creed should not be a criteria to win. Sensei258 is correct. Many others have given immense efforts yet no peace prize.

Humanity collectively in general is destructive. Individuals generally we are not. If somehow we could find the root cause other than greed. Just look at atrocities throughout the past 100 years, dozens and continue as I type.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

“If the president is coming to see what really happened here and if that constitutes a step toward the abolition of nuclear arms in future, I don’t think we should demand an apology,” said Takeshi Masuda, a 91-year-old former school teacher.........

Miki Tsukishita, 75, “What really matters is not repeating the tragedy. I want him to say to other nuclear states ‘I’ve come to Hiroshima, so should you’

Not the entire picture....

I am of the opinion that the education system need to reflect the whole tragedy, including solemn reflection of the behaviour of Imperial Japanese Army on the many service men captured and subsequently subjected to inhuman treatment.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The fact that it is being brought up is proof of how bad an idea it is; just a day after Kerry's visit, of course. It doesn't matter if Obama doesn't go to apologise, that is how it would be viewed by the media, here, and most certainly by the right-wing media back in the US. Elements here would use it EXACTLY as elements in the Chinese media would view it if Abe went to visit Nanjing, regardless of what the intentions of the leader in question were. It would no longer be about peace and looking forward, but become 'proof of blame', and lead to demands for more and more, as we are seeing right now.

Would it be morally good for a president to visit? Yes, I think so -- just as soon as Japan visits Nanjing and other massacre sights -- but right now is not the right time, and first it needs to be ensured that it would be a visit for peace, not a visit for blame.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Sensato,

Thanks for the vid (and for linking it - not may people do that here). I found this very interesting, in that the program only seemed set up to ask for a one-sided apology from a single man. To me, the anger and hate in that woman's eyes is quite frankly scary. I see that hate in many people's eyes here in Japan and it is unnerving.

Apology or not, my problem with the Japanese stance is that whatever is being said, people here seem to think they deserve an apology, yet in the current Japanese political climate, not many people seem to reflect as to why the bombs were dropped. It never ever feels as if Japan s truly sorry for what it did during the war. To be honest, I don't think many are...

If Japan educated its people on atrocities commited, on all sides, I guess I would be hopeful, but instead, this country seems to strive to create ignorant youngsters, only interested in their own, "beautiful" country. It doesn't feel modern.

I seriously hope Obama won't go to Hiroshima (although I suspect he will), for it would be seen as many Japanese as a sort of apology, in turn justifying them as victims. Which is in no way true.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Hiroshima survivors look to Obama visit for nuclear disarmament

For what? So they can also criticize him like the way Kerry was? What will it take to please them, a full 1hr visit instead of 50 minutes?

Nuclear disarmament sounds like a good plan, but it just isn't real world reality.

I seriously hope Obama won't go to Hiroshima (although I suspect he will), for it would be seen as many Japanese as a sort of apology, in turn justifying them as victims. Which is in no way true.

Exactly. It will only enhance Japan's "victim mentality" narrative.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

damned if you do and damned if you don't. i really don't see what difference it would make to nuclear disarmament if obama, or any other world leader, visits the peace park in hiroshima. it would not further the cause in any way and could be used as fodder by various political parties, both in the US and Japan. and the goal of disarmament is pure fantasy. the genie has been let out of the bottle. the only thing we can hope to do is contain the spread to more "rogue" nations. btw i love the hypocrisy of the west. any new country that wants nuclear material is considered "rogue."

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Current Japanese priminister'sgrand uncle former prime minister Eisaku Satoh preached no more atomic bomb all over in the world after he was retired and he received Nobel Peace Prize. The first Japanese. Peace prize.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Agee Nuclear disarmament lets start with that nut breathing down our neck here in Japan Mr Kim Jong Un of North Korea ~ Voted most likely to use one ~

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And yet to read comments from the peanut gallery, for many people it seems a visit by the President would be considered tantamount to an apology regardless of what he actually says.

It would be seen as exactly that, semantics aside. When Abe visited Yasukuni it made headlines around the world as Japan being unapologetic about the war, regardless of what he said. If Obama were to visit Hiroshima, it would be seen as an apology, and nothing else, period. And the other countries in Asia who saw tens of millions of their people killed by the Japanese would never forgive America or Obama for such a visit.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

In USA, there hardly any news about Japan but because Kerry, Bib shots of USA are discussing if Obama visit Hiroshima or not. For a couple days.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The vast majority of Japanese think the bombings were unjustified.

Probably because they have very little understanding of the events around Asia at that time. While the atomic bombs were a drastic solution, the preceding years had claimed millions of lives. How long could that continue? It's too late to ask the question about justification. It's time to learn and move on, that means learn about ALL the atrocities of WW11. It's annoying when the conversation only relates to 1 week in 1945.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

How many people have been killed or wounded by the Japanese Self Defense Force since the end of WWII?

That would be zero.

In the modern world, Japan has been a model country and contributed enormous humanitarian aid around the globe.

Those of you who are still fighting the war should take a breath and reflect on that.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

The only solution to stop Nuclear proliferation and disarm world from Nuclear weapon is " Made more Nuclear weapon"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ Trouble May be the lessons of WW2 sunk in well. Humanitarian aid can also be power, SOFT POWER, they call it. I have seen and heard many times in the Japanese media using visuals to describe other countries as " sanshoku taberenai kuniguni" , translation.. countries whose people can't afford three meals.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The depth of the usual arguments trying to justify Hiroshima and Nagasaki is absolutely risible, a kind of post hoc, ergo propter hoc rationalization that states something in the lines of “America never does immoral things, therefore dropping the nukes must not be immoral”, with a couple of lines about something something “the nukes actually saved lives” and something something “Japanese Atrocities” to conceal it..

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Hiroshima survivors look to Obama visit for nuclear disarmament, not apology

Obama will apologize anyway lamenting the fact that the war was ended too soon and before hundreds of thousands of white neo-colonial American imperialists could be slaughtered on the beaches of Kyushu.

As for nuclear disarmament, Obama is doing everything he can to ensure nuclear proliferation. He is practically paying the Iranians to build a bomb that he is making it legal for them to construct. Once the Iranians have won, what do you think the non-Persian countries in the region will be busy doing? Acquiring their won bomb of course.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Impossible for Obama to visit for so many reason id guess as it would mix up to much stuff.

Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize is like recommending Mel Gibson for a grant from the Shoah Foundation.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

He is practically paying the Iranians to build a bomb that he is making it legal for them to construct.

Do you actually believe this lie, or are you just gas lighting to try to make Obama look bad?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Like many I get sick of Hiroshima & Nagasaki being played up with absolutely NO CONTEXT of WWII & playing the victim.

Bottom line is JAPAN has an awful lot to do before any US president could even consider visiting Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Obama would be a fool to go anywhere near Hiroshima at this point in time!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Hiroshima survivors look to Obama visit for nuclear disarmament, not apology

While neither are remotely likely, the former is slightly more so than the latter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are revisionists in high political office displaying little or no contrition for many of the atrocities carried out in the name of Emperor Hirohito.

These right wingers will not hasitate to use a Presidental visit reflecting on the devastation and loss of life caused by use of weapons of mass destruction to further there cause as rebuttal and then repudiate the tribunals of war crimes.

There is little doubt the use of these weapons caused the deaths of many innocent people and reduced cities to radioactive rubble. That certainly needs to be recognised.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

sangetsu03APR. 14, 2016 - 10:04AM JST It would be seen as exactly that, semantics aside. When Abe visited Yasukuni it made headlines around the world as Japan being unapologetic about the war, regardless of what he said.

I can only assume someone who makes this comparison has not been to both sites. I have, and the difference in terms of honest examination of history is night and day.

The museum at Yasukuni explicitly misrepresents history, belittling Japan's victims in WWII and twisting every historical event through half-truths and outright lies to present Japan as not just the victim of WWII, but at every stage along the way helpless to make any other choices than it did. Japan's invasion of Asia was, according to Yasukuni, forced upon Japan by the West.

The museum at Hiroshima when I went forced all visitors to - before they encountered even a single word about Hiroshima - look upon a room exhibiting the horrors of Japan's wrongdoing in Asia. They very clearly impress upon every visitor that this was the context for the bombing. When I spoke to hibakusha they were uninterested in assigning blame, they openly acknowledged IJA's evil and simply wanted an end to nuclear weapons.

It may be that someone utterly ignorant of the mission of the two places could misconstrue a visit to Hiroshima as being like a visit to Yasukuni for political gaming purposes, but honest appraisal shows them to be literally polar opposites.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The facile talking points nationalist right wingers use to try to justify the mass murders at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are typically as follows: “when America does immoral things, they are necessary”, with a couple of lines about “the nukes actually saved lives” and “Japanese Atrocities”.

The simple minded justifications are designed to appeal to American extremists with little knowledge of their country`s atrocities before, during and after WWII.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Progress on ridding the world of nuclear weapons, not an apology, is what Hiroshima would want from a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama

Yeah. Right. You know what happened to the only country in the world that destroyed it's nuclear weapons — Ukraine? Yes, it was invaded by its neighbour who did't destroy the nukes: by Russia. Russians are still occupying Ukrainian territory and are killing Ukrainian soldiers and civilians right this moment.

Go ahead. Disarm. Be the next Russian victim.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Good luck with that... with neighbors like Russia, China, and North Korea, do these folks really want the US to be the first to forego its nuclear weapons? And do they honestly think that India, Pakistan, Israel et. al. will agree to unilaterally disarm?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

why hold on to the past and live unhappy? never advance to another level if live in the past

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How many people have been killed or wounded by the Japanese Self Defense Force since the end of WWII? That would be zero.

You would be wrong here, a SDF guy just got sent to prison for burning down his house and killing four of his own children. There are plenty of others that have died from the hands of a SDF member.

Just because it wasn't in a war, does not make them blameless or angels either.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

We certainly shouldn't apologize for an attack that shortened the war and saved hundreds of thousands of lives (at least). And the idea that the Japanese were "innocent" civilians is ludicrous. Japan was a war machine supported by its entire population. Expressing regrets does not show our humanity, it is merely a cheap shot that shows disrespect for the millions of armed forces personnel who fought and died against Japan. Get real.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

So Obama won the Nobel peace prize for his push for nuclear disarmament. What did he actually do, other than tell some countries that they can't have nuclear weapons, whilst sitting on top of his own HUGE pile of nuclear weapons? Oh he did, I think, come to some agreement with Russia that the 2 of them would reduce their nuclear arsenal to each posses enough weapons to only destroy the world 5 times over. Can anyone fill me in on that one please?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Dmytro Kovalov"Go ahead. Disarm. Be the next Russian victim".

What a load of crap ! Many countries have no nuclear triad and they aren't victims of Russia. Stop spreading silly and rather aggressive ukranian propaganda.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@yamashi

Many countries have no nuclear triad and they aren't victims of Russia. Stop spreading silly and rather aggressive ukranian propaganda.

Right, you are correct. It's all Ukrainian propaganda. Let me name few examples of "Ukrainian propaganda". Below are only examples of recent history: Russian aggression after the breakout of Soviet Union.

Litvinia - civilians killed by Russian army, during move of Litvinia to independence; Moldova - so called Transdrstrian republic established and occupied by russian army; Georgia - in 1989 Georgian protesters were killed by Russian army, Georgian regions Abkhasia and Osetia occupied by russian army, Russian aggression in Georgian in 2008; Chechnya — capital of the republic Grozny was destroyed to the ground by russians, about 100,000 Chechens killed by russians during 2 Chechen wars, Azerbaijan and Armenia – Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is fueled by Russia, arms sold by Russia to both sides of the conflict; Russia military "consultant" in Armenia fight against Azerbaijan; Syria -

DO you want to continue yourself? If you are Japanese you know history of Northern Territories. This also was a "Ukrainian propaganda".

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Dmitro Kovalov"It's all Ukrainian propaganda".

That's right. In addition, even that Crimean peninsula was a gift of insane Soviet leader Khrushchev (sp?) to Ukrainian Socialist Republic in 1954. Now crimeans decided to be with Russia again and you're speaking about "Russian aggression" again and again. About lack of Ukrainian nuclear weaponry. All warheads were Soviet (Russian) property, not Ukrainian one. You weren't able to support a fleet of tactical and strategic bombers let alone nuclear warheads. That is why Russians decided to take weaponry under strict control under Russian authorities and within territory of Russian Federation.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Those military leaders who wanted to make all Japanese fight to the end (women and children too) are the worst scum. At least in Albania they now curse Enver Hoxha (I was there recently). No need to glorify these bad men from the past.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The facile talking points nationalist right wingers use to try to justify the mass murders at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are typically as follows: “when America does immoral things, they are necessary”, with a couple of lines about “the nukes actually saved lives” and “Japanese Atrocities”.

These simple minded justifications appeal to American right wingers with little knowledge of their country`s atrocities before, during and after WWII.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The world will be turning back to 1930s , a dangerous decade if the nuclear arsenals not existing. Wars were fought in a limited engagement since 1945 was due to the concern of nuclear retaliations. The Japanese idea of nuclear disarmament is a very unfeasible thinking.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The Japanese idea of nuclear disarmament is a very unfeasible thinking.

The Japanese are acting very unreasonable when they talk about nuclear disarmament. Its too bad they were made an example of, but the reality is that NO superpower or rogues will eliminate their nukes.

. . . . its the Ace of Spades.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Most of the Americans that fought Japanese soldiers still remember how they treated POW's not to mention others they felt needing torture that was not even at war with them. Tit for tat is what I say, they screwed their karma up and it delivered what they deserved.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Sensato I'm shaking my head after reading the Japanese comments on that video.

I just hope that these were the minority netouyo because if this was how normal Japanese people think, I just don't know what to say... God bless them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Many Japanese forget that the attack on Pearl Harbor killed and injured a large number of people who were just going about their day and were not at war.

Sure a greater number were killed in the atomic bombings and the Tokyo fire bombing raids.

But this is not a numbers game! It makes no difference....people died!

The atomic bombing were a means to an end that undoubtedly saved American and Japanese lives. Many folk forget that point.

A retired US Navy friend of mine often tells me that our local beach that stretches for miles was to have been one of the landing points for a mainland invasion. What could have happened still gives me shivers.

No apology needed from Mr Obama. But the call be abolish these terrible weapons is a noble one.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Many people (Japanese and otherwise) need to learn the truth about their history. Glorifying Tojo and others does not help. I stand by my comment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

utorsa

The facile talking points nationalist right wingers use to try to justify the mass murders at Hiroshima

I think many of our right wing American friends here at JT will bridle at the notion that I am their peer in that regard.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

ive met so may japanese people, red faced and shaking their fists, claiming that Japan was the victim and that us should apologize. this article generalizes hiroshima people, there are plenty who are demanding obama to apologize

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think its generally accepted by most that Japan had its own nuclear program during WWII.

One wonders how they would have deployed such a devise had they beat the US to the mark.

I'm guessing they would have used it in much the same way...by levelling some cities.

Now the US stopped once they thought their point had been made. It could have been so different if LeMay had had his way....

I believe the mentality that the Japanese displayed back then would have had them using them as fast as they could produce them or until the "fizzy stuff" used to make them ran out.

In short...I believe they really would have sent the USA back to the stone age.

....and a few of their neighbours too I suspect.

I think the world we know now would be a very different place from what we have now. And the Japanese a very different people than what we have now.

...and not in a good way.

Its easy to play the victim here for Japan. but I believe that the way things played out benefited everyone.

Not least the Japanese.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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