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Japanese happy Obama to visit Hiroshima, apology or not

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Mieko Mori prayed in front of the Flame of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a memorial monument for A-bomb victims where the flames collected from the ruins in the two cities since dropping of atomic bombs in 1945 have been kept burning at Ueno Park in Tokyo on Wednesday. Japanese are welcoming President Barack Obama’s decision to visit the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima, and those interviewed Wednesday said they aren’t seeking an apology. “I don’t live in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but I am overcome with emotion when I think that someone who wants to offer understanding is finally about to arrive,” said Mori, a 74-year-old woman who stopped at the memorial in Tokyo to pray for the victims.

TOKYO » Japanese are welcoming President Barack Obama’s decision to visit the atomic-bombed city of Hiroshima, and those interviewed Wednesday said they aren’t seeking an apology.

Even those who want one realize that such a demand would have ruled out a U.S. presidential visit.

“Of course everyone wants to hear an apology. Our families were killed,” said Hiroshi Shimizu, general secretary of the Hiroshima Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations.

“However, by setting conditions we limit world leaders from visiting, so we decided to eliminate that,” he said in Tokyo. “We would first like for them to come and stand on the grounds of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and take a good look at what is in front of them and give it good thought.”

The American and Japanese governments announced Tuesday that Obama would become the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima, a city almost entirely destroyed by a U.S. atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945. Some 140,000 people were killed, and others have endured after-effects to this day.

The U.S. dropped a second devastating atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki three days later. Japan announced it would surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, ending World War II.

Obama will visit Hiroshima with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 27, after attending the annual Group of Seven summit in Japan.

“I don’t live in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but I am overcome with emotion when I think that someone who wants to offer understanding is finally about to arrive,” said Mieko Mori, a 74-year-old woman who stopped at a memorial in Tokyo to pray for the victims.

A poll released this week by national broadcaster NHK found that 70 percent of Japanese want Obama to visit Hiroshima, and only 2 percent were opposed.

The visit is contentious in the U.S., where many believe the atomic bombs hastened the end of the war, saving countless other lives. The White House went out its way to stress Obama will not apologize.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Obama would “not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb,” and instead spotlight the toll of war and offer a forward-looking vision of a non-nuclear world.

“I hear America is still divided over atomic bombings, but it’s been almost 71 years since the war ended, and I think it’s about time Obama should be able to visit Hiroshima,” said Kohachiro Hayashi, who was reading a newspaper at a Tokyo park.

“He wouldn’t have been able to come in the middle of his term, but now it’s almost the end, so it’s like now or never,” the retired teacher said.

Hayashi, 59, said asking for an apology would only cause an endless and fruitless debate over who should take blame for various wartime acts.

“We should just accept his visit as a gesture of sincerity,” he said. “It’s OK as long as he makes clear his commitment never to use atomic weapons. … I hope he will learn what happened and feel a little bit of it himself while being there.”

Another retired teacher said it would be rude to demand an apology.

“Japan was also trying to develop nuclear weapons,” Takatsugu Sakamoto, 80, said by telephone from Nishinomiya in Osaka prefecture. “Americans were just faster. If Japan hadn’t been trying, then it might make sense. And so to those who are demanding an apology, my response is: What in the world are you saying? Mr. Obama doesn’t need to apologize.”

Terumi Tanaka, the general secretary of the Japanese Confederation of A- and H-Bombs Sufferers Organizations, said his members want Obama to state clearly his intention to eliminate nuclear weapons.

“To me, that would be a true form of an apology,” he said. “For 70 years we have said this and felt this all along, that no one should have to suffer the same thing. Answering to that wish is a true sign of an apology to us.”

Associated Press photographer Eugene Hoshiko and writers Yuri Kageyama and Ken Moritsugu contributed to this report.

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      • The bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki literally saved hundreds of thousands of AMERICANS. 20,000 U.S. troops were killed in Okinawa alone, and Japan was going to fight till the last person, civilian or not.

        • The difference is if you have a war and hundreds of thousands of troops on both sides are killed you have a horrible war. When one side incinerates hundreds of thousands of civilian noncombatants, you have what by any stretch of the imagination is a war crime. Any leader today who used a weapon of mass destruction on a civilian center would find him/herself at The Hague standing for a war crime. That being said, people’s perception in 1945 were different than our current perceptions. I’d like to think that the US would not launch a nuclear strike on a civilian center in a conventional war. I don’t think at the time the scale of civilian casualties, both from the bombings and aftermath were truly appreciated. In some ways its because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that there has not been a use of a nuclear weapon. I would suggest that you move away from the “ends justifies the means” argument because frankly the in discriminant killing of over a hundred thousand civilian noncombatants over two days is not really defensible by modern standards.

        • Fun Fact: You wouldn’t be saying the same thing if you were an innocent civilian living in Japan with no interest in the war in 1945. Is it really so hard for people to just not be total pricks, and to try to show at least some sliver of empathy for other people? War sucks. People dying sucks. Nobody should be happy about any of it, and nobody should be making any excuses for any of it. Is it good that American troops didn’t have to die? Yes. But is it good that Japanese civilians had to die in their place? No. There was not good outcome to the situation. Maybe it was a necessary evil, but it was still evil. At least have the backbone to accept and acknowledge that.

        • First, the attack on December 7 had no civilian targets. U.S. fire killed all but one civilian casualty in Honolulu. Don’t forget the firebombing of Tokyo, Kobe, and many other cities, using incendiary bombs that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. Bombing runs by B29s were at low altitude because resistance was non-existent by then. Japan was defeated and was sending surrender overtures but the U.S. wanted to test their nuclear weapons on civilian targets. After the A-Bombing other countries sent medical help. The U.S. sent in monitors to record the blast and radiation effects. Look it up if you don’t believe this.

        • Cheese is conveniently leaving out a few facts about Hiroshima as a target:

          “Hiroshima was chosen as the first target due to its military and industrial values. As a military target, Hiroshima was a major army base that housed the headquarters of the Japanese 5th Division and the 2nd Army Headquarters. It was also an important port in southern Japan and a communications center. ”

          Same with Nagasaki.

          Also missing is the alternatives, leaving the Japanese militarists in power (to find their own a-bomb, eventually) or a land invasion which would have killed millions of Japanese, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of American troops.

        • Your point is absolutely correct. Unlike Mr. Cory, I find no lack of sympathy in your observation, just simple logic and fact.

        • Tanuki. You are a liar.

          “Japan was defeated and was sending surrender overtures but the U.S. wanted to test their nuclear weapons on civilian targets. ”

          Factions within the government made tentative moves toward some form of negotiated end to the war, but there was never any evidence that the militarist who actually controlled the country were ready to hang it up. To the contrary, they prepared the country for mass suicide ala Okinawa.

      • “If Saddam rejects peace, we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.” – —President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

        Hmm…

      • Well, there you go. Finally, the long awaited “it was Bush’s fault” excuse that permeates the liberal/progressive brain. Black plague? Bush. WWI?? Bush. Bush. Herpes?? Bush, again. Bush: The all purpose, go-to source for almost any occasion calling for a lame brained, progressive, false moral equivalence.

        Maybe the word “Bush” should be stricken from the language or at least assigned a trigger warning at our glorious higher education indoctrination centers (that would be universities, to you).

    • “This history is first and foremost about the most devastating war in world history where more noncombatants died than combatants. It is about American and Allied soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who fought for peace in Asia,” Thompson said. “It is about a war started by Japan, and for the visit to be solely aspirational and focused on nuclear weapons avoids the hard truths of what it means to fight for freedom and released from tyrannical militarist regime.”
      (FROM: “THE JAPAN TIMES” (FRONT PAGE”)

    • Obama will urge the end of nuclear weapons and that is the right course. North Korea would love to bomb Hawaii and would do it in a second if he could get away with it. That said, Japan has never quite apologized for the war or their leaders cruel insistence on carrying on the war after they were clearly defeated.

  • No problem Japan. We’ll apologize for the bombings and you apologize for Pearl Harbor, put December 7th in your children’s textbooks and teach it your classrooms instead of sweeping it under the tatami . BTW my family is from Hiroshima.

  • I don’t think the AP writer that submitted this story talked to many other people other than Ms. Mori-san. NUMEROUS delegations of all types from our country (civilian and military) have visited Hiroshima & Nagasaki over the years. ALL understanding of the suffering those cities had, NONE apologizing, and NONE should. I think just a Japanese style fluff piece to generate excitement about the president’s upcoming visit and stir up talk of the ‘apology’ again. Bet he just vows to eliminate nuclear weapons…

  • War like Presidential campaigns are down and dirty. When it’s over the people have to unite. Shameful mistakes
    were made on both sides.
    Hopefully we can unite and put Donald J. Trump in the White House.

    • As much as I hate Hillary, I have come to the conclusion that I have even more contempt for Trump supporters. It’s not that I actually hate Trump. It’s the people who support him who are so toxic and cancerous, that I just want to vote for Hillary out of spite.

  • What are the Japanese thinking saying Obama owes them an apology?? Are they really conscious of what they are saying?? If anything, the Japs owe us an apology because it was their dastardly sneak attack that started the war and the U.S. had to end the war with minimizing the death toll so the best alternative was dropping the Atomic bomb or the casualties on both sides would have been enormous. If anything, the Japanese citizenry should be seeking an apology by their military for starting the war in the first place which resulted in the enormous death toll both sides encountered….give me a break….seeking an apology by Obama….yeah, right!!!!

  • I am convinced it saved lives. Even children were being trained to attack invading soldiers with simple weapons. They were preparing to fight for every inch of soil despite the cost in their own people’s lives, let alone allied soldiers.

    • “Even Japanese children were trained to defend their country soil if invading forces came”? Ahh, if a foreign soldier came on YOUR property ,you? HUH? As it is now, just the thought of a Muslim working near by makes the conservatives go bonkers.

  • The war is long over and Japan is one of our most reliable allies in Asia against the fanatical North Korean government and also against China’s expansion….his visit will show unity between our governments ….

    • His visit is unnecessary, serves no purpose. The unity between Japan and the US doesn’t need proof or strengthening. We don’t have a more solid ally, anywhere, on a national or person-to-person level.

      If this visit serves no diplomatic purpose, then why is he making it? Why emphasize the use of nuclear weapons other than to shore up his idea of eliminating nukes (noble, in a sense, but primarily a juvenile aspiration). A secondary, but related reason would be the man’s innate narcissism. A final reason is his built-in dislike for his own country, from its foundation to its 20th century history, so this visit is the perfect bookend to a presidency which began with a demeaning apology.

      • And for those who would dispute that Obama’s presidency has been one long, disparaging apology for his own country, here are the top ten times he’s done so in public (Heritage foundation) (note 1: He’s never said, literally, “I apologize” for the US. However, the implications of his actions, the symbolism of this Hiroshima visit, and words are crystal clear. Note 2: wouldn’t expect him to defend his country, “right or wrong”, but he chose the “always wrong” path.)

        “1. Apology to France and Europe (“America Has Shown Arrogance”)

        Speech by President Obama, Rhenus Sports Arena, Strasbourg, France, April 3, 2009.[1]

        So we must be honest with ourselves. In recent years we’ve allowed our Alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there’s something more that has crept into our relationship. In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
        2. Apology to the Muslim World (“We Have Not Been Perfect”)

        President Obama, interview with Al Arabiya, January 27, 2009.[2]

        My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that.
        3. Apology to the Summit of the Americas (“At Times We Sought to Dictate Our Terms”)

        President Obama, address to the Summit of the Americas opening ceremony, Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, April 17, 2009.[3]

        All of us must now renew the common stake that we have in one another. I know that promises of partnership have gone unfulfilled in the past, and that trust has to be earned over time. While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values. So I’m here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration.
        The United States will be willing to acknowledge past errors where those errors have been made.
        4. Apology at the G-20 Summit of World Leaders (“Some Restoration of America’s Standing in the World”)

        News conference by President Obama, ExCel Center, London, United Kingdom, April 2, 2009.[4]

        I would like to think that with my election and the early decisions that we’ve made, that you’re starting to see some restoration of America’s standing in the world. And although, as you know, I always mistrust polls, international polls seem to indicate that you’re seeing people more hopeful about America’s leadership.
        I just think in a world that is as complex as it is, that it is very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions. Just to try to crystallize the example, there’s been a lot of comparison here about Bretton Woods. “Oh, well, last time you saw the entire international architecture being remade.” Well, if there’s just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that’s an easier negotiation. But that’s not the world we live in, and it shouldn’t be the world that we live in.
        5. Apology for the War on Terror (“We Went off Course”)

        President Obama, speech at the National Archives, Washington, D.C., May 21, 2009.[5]

        Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us–Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens–fell silent.
        In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach–one that rejected torture and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
        6. Apology for Guantanamo in France (“Sacrificing Your Values”)

        Speech by President Obama, Rhenus Sports Arena, Strasbourg, France, April 3, 2009.[6]

        Our two republics were founded in service of these ideals. In America, it is written into our founding documents as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In France: “Liberté”–absolutely–“egalité, fraternité.” Our moral authority is derived from the fact that generations of our citizens have fought and bled to uphold these values in our nations and others. And that’s why we can never sacrifice them for expedience’s sake. That’s why I’ve ordered the closing of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay. That’s why I can stand here today and say without equivocation or exception that the United States of America does not and will not torture.
        In dealing with terrorism, we can’t lose sight of our values and who we are. That’s why I closed Guantanamo. That’s why I made very clear that we will not engage in certain interrogation practices. I don’t believe that there is a contradiction between our security and our values. And when you start sacrificing your values, when you lose yourself, then over the long term that will make you less secure.
        7. Apology before the Turkish Parliament (“Our Own Darker Periods in Our History”)

        Speech by President Obama to the Turkish Parliament, Ankara, Turkey, April 6, 2009.[7]

        Every challenge that we face is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation. This work is never over. That’s why, in the United States, we recently ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. That’s why we prohibited–without exception or equivocation–the use of torture. All of us have to change. And sometimes change is hard.
        Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past. The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.
        Human endeavor is by its nature imperfect. History is often tragic, but unresolved, it can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past. And reckoning with the past can help us seize a better future.
        8. Apology for U.S. Policy toward the Americas (“The United States Has Not Pursued and Sustained Engagement with Our Neighbors”)

        Opinion editorial by President Obama: “Choosing a Better Future in the Americas,” April 16, 2009.[8]

        Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas. My Administration is committed to the promise of a new day. We will renew and sustain a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security.
        9. Apology for the Mistakes of the CIA (“Potentially We’ve Made Some Mistakes”)

        Remarks by the President to CIA employees, CIA Headquarters, Langley, Virginia, April 20, 2009.[9] The remarks followed the controversial decision to release Office of Legal Counsel memoranda detailing CIA enhanced interrogation techniques used against terrorist suspects.

        So don’t be discouraged by what’s happened in the last few weeks. Don’t be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we’ve made some mistakes. That’s how we learn. But the fact that we are willing to acknowledge them and then move forward, that is precisely why I am proud to be President of the United States, and that’s why you should be proud to be members of the CIA.
        10. Apology for Guantanamo in Washington (“A Rallying Cry for Our Enemies”)

        President Obama, speech at the National Archives, Washington, D.C., May 21, 2009.[10]

        There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. In fact, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law–a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.
        So the record is clear: Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies.”

        • Oh, boo hoo. So we actually had a President who was interested in unifying peoples and nations, rather than dividing them. Cry me a river.

        • Geez….forgot to your meds this morning?!…..your just babbling on not making much sense…..

        • And I thought there were only three stooges! (Nana counts as two) The usual lack of thought/fact/logic from Nanakuli; a comment from professional point-misser, Cory; and a blurb from “oblivious to the obvious” resident. You guys should get together for coffee.

        • Richard your not unified? Everytime there’s an OBAMA article, all drama queens like zero in with nothing but crying. Get over it, AMERICANS voted him president 2 terms….time to follow or leave our USA.

        • Only a fool would blame Obama for everything, and an even bigger fool won’t blame him for anything.

  • Wow. So much hate expressed here. And from people who either were not born or were too young to be of insignificance. This is exactly why the killing goes on and on in places like the Middle East. Grudges and feuds are held for thousands of years. Obama is doing the right thing. The Japanese government is not asking for an apology.

    • These hateful comments are coming from a dying generation of losers with nothing better to do than spread their misery to other people. Let’s look forward to a brighter and better future.

      • Looking forward to a brighter and better future with President Trump. The dying generation you speak is also known as “The Greatest Generation”. You may recall we won WWII.

      • Is it wrong to hate illogic? I don’t think so. Your brighter future seems to be built on PC trigger warnings, cultural self-flagellation, and, above all, a war on truth. If that’s the case, our universities are up to the job of producing your foot soldiers. However, nothing will alter the simple truth that those who used the A-bomb had no reasonable alternative.

        • You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth. You probably believe the Vietnam war was justified, the My Lai massacre was necessary and those Kent State students deserved to die.

  • If he doesn’t apologize to the Japanese people for Hiroshima and Nagasaki maybe he can apologize to the world for handing nukes to the Iranian mullahs.

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