Obama ignores war legacy denial with Hiroshima visit

By Yu Jincui Source:Global Times Published: 2016-5-10 0:38:01

War legacy denial means Obama should avoid Hiroshima

Related news: Obama to visit Japan's Hiroshima later May: White House

Obama sets Hiroshima visit

Speculation has been circulating that US President Barack Obama may visit Hiroshima, Japan, after he attends the G7 summit at the end of this month. Hiroshima is where the atomic bomb was used to hasten the end of World War II.

However, the White House on Monday stated a presidential visit to Hiroshima hasn't been set in stone. When questioned as to whether Obama thinks the US owes Japan a formal apology for the 1945 nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said "No, he does not."

Japan, as an aggressor in WWII, does not deserve an apology. There is no question that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was a tragedy, with over 100,000 perishing. But it was launched to force Japan to surrender and end the horrific WWII. Then US president Harry Truman weighed using the atomic bombs against a full invasion of Japan's home islands which would have killed far more people on both sides.

It is inappropriate for a sitting US president to visit the site of the atomic bombing, which will inevitably be interpreted by many as a de facto US apology.

Japan has been ceaselessly emphasizing its identity as the world's sole victim of nuclear weapons, with which it tries to curry sympathy from the world. It highlighted the horrific suffering caused by the atomic bombs but with little reference to the causes of the war. When reflecting upon the atomic bombing tragedy, Japan should not disregard the fact that it is the consequence of its militaristic aggression.  

Japan is earnest in its wish to take Obama to Hiroshima. It claimed that such a visit will help draw attention to a nuclear-free world. Supporters of a visit by Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his "vision and work for a world without nuclear weapons," also argued the visit would send the world a message of the US' commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.

But the issue of a nuclear-free world shouldn't obscure the importance of WWII legacies, which still haunts East Asia. Without Tokyo's proper reflection on war history, Japan's neighboring countries will not be convinced of Japan's pacifist intentions. And before it happens, not visiting Hiroshima is the better choice for President Obama, though China will not intervene in Washington's decision.

The best way to avoid war and create peace is to remember clearly the root cause of the war. If Obama finally decides to visit Hiroshima, we hope he will urge Japan to reflect upon the root cause of the atomic bombings and really take responsibility for the 405,000 Americans killed in the war, as well for all the casualties in victim countries, including China.  Obama needs to heed carefully his decision to avoid ruining his presidential legacy.

Newspaper headline: War legacy denial means Obama should avoid Hiroshima

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