Obama Wanted to Apologize for Hiroshima but Tokyo Stopped Him
March 18, 2014
Amir Mir / The News
While the US is still despised by many in Japan for refusing to apologise for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bomb attack of 1945 which had killed 200,000 people, leaked US diplomatic cables paint an entirely different story, saying Obama in fact wanted to say sorry for the massacre during his 2009 official visit to Tokyo but the Japanese authorities had themselves stopped him from doing so.
HIROSHIMA (March 17, 2014) -- While the US is still despised by many in Japan for refusing to apologise for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bomb attack of 1945 which had killed 200,000 people, leaked US diplomatic cables paint an entirely different story, saying Obama in fact wanted to say sorry for the massacre during his 2009 official visit to Tokyo but the Japanese authorities had themselves stopped him from doing so.
According to leaked US diplomatic cables [as reported by The Japan Times], during his November 2009 official visit to Japan, President Barack Obama wanted to apologise to the people of Japan for dropping nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the Japanese government had stopped him, saying: "No, you are not apologising for that."
The cable has quoted the then US Ambassador to Japan John Roos as telling the Obama administration that Japan doesn't think it is a good idea for President Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima or to apologise for dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities during World War II.
In August 1945, the US had dropped two atomic bombs on Japan -- one in Hiroshima and the other in Nagasaki. The first bombing killed over 140,000 people in Hiroshima while the second bombing on Nagasaki in southern Japan killed another 74,000 three days later.
About 265,000 people survived the attack but the death toll had reached 269,446 since then because many of the survivors had later developed different illnesses from radiation exposure including cancer and liver diseases. The two bombings were the first and remain the only use of the nuclear weapons in wartime.
In 1963, a Tokyo court ruled that the dropping of atomic bombs was an act of hostility, which was illegal under the rules of positive international law.
Sixty-five years after the US dropped 'Little Boy' on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II and ushering in an era of nuclear dread, the Obama administration had sent its first delegation to Hiroshima in August 2010 to attend the annual ceremony to remember the Japanese who lost their lives in the bombing.
While some Japanese hailed the presence of the US and other nuclear powers at the ceremony for the first time since 1945 as a sign of commitment to eventual nuclear disarmament, for others it was too little, too late.
Some Japanese, including the mayor of Hiroshima still maintain that the US should have apologised for the bombing by now instead of still trying to justify the barbaric action while citing the 1941 Japanese air force attack on the US naval base in Pearl Harbour.
However, the leaked US diplomatic cables claim that before sending its first delegation to Hiroshima in August 2010, the Obama administration had discussed with the then-Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka the US President's desire to tender an apology for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings when he visits Japan in November 2009.
US State Department under the direction of the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had sent the Japanese a letter, saying that Obama wanted to apologise in person for the USA's World War II bombing of Japan. President Obama wanted to present his apology from the United States in person and he wanted to do that despite opposition by senior officials in his administration who maintained that the Japanese were the ones who had attacked the US at Pearl Harbor.
However, according to the secret cable dated September 3, 2009, in response to the letter written under the direction of Hillary Clinton, the then Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Yabunaka maintained that both the governments must temper the public expectations on such issues, as the idea of President Barack Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologise for the atomic bombing during World War II was a non-starter.
"While a simple visit to Hiroshima without fanfare is sufficiently symbolic to convey the right message, it is premature to include such programme in the November 2009 US presidential visit," the Wiki Leaks reported.
The Japanese had actually feared that the American apology could be exploited by anti-nuclear groups and those opposed to the defensive alliance between Japan and the US who are now on friendly terms both politically and socially.
It may be recalled that George Bush, while campaigning for the office of the president, had promised that he will never apologise for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. "I don't care what the facts are. But you heard that right. I will never apologise," he had added in the same breath. However, as far as President Obama is concerned, he had bowed to the Japanese Emperor during his 2009 visit to Japan, something no American president had ever done.
At over six feet tall, the US president was photographed bending to nearly a 90 degree angle when he greeted the relatively diminutive Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
While the right-wing US media had criticised Obama, carrying banner headlines like "Obama bows before Japan's emperor," the Japanese media had praised him by stating that Obama has more of a true Japanese heart than most Japanese do.
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