President Obama’s Historic Visit to Hiroshima


 

In the seven decades since the bombing of Hiroshima, sitting U.S. presidents have made numerous visits to Japan, but Hiroshima has never been on the itinerary. However, the recent announcement about President Barack Obama’s decision to visit Hiroshima as part of a previously scheduled trip to Japan for the Group of Seven economic summit has turned a new leaf in U.S.- Japan relations, and has ignited the age old debate about the use of nuclear weapons to bring the curtain down on World War II.

While it is unlikely that President Obama will issue an apology for the atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan in August 1945, his visit to Hiroshima is loaded with multiple messages and symbolism. The President has been advised to keep the occasion somber and reflective, focused on the desire of disarmament. U.S. officials like Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, have repeatedly stressed that instead of reexamining the historic decision to drop the bombs, the president will “shine a spotlight on the tremendous and devastating human toll of war” and “honor the memory of all innocents who were lost” and it is claimed that “the President will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future.” Still, anything he says will not only attract sharp scrutiny in the U.S. and Japan, but would also be carefully analysed in the broader international community. While conservative Americans might consider anything resembling an apology a highly contentious issue for the U.S. presidential campaign, others are determined to make Hiroshima a reminder of the atrocity of war that should not fade.

The use of atomic bombs has become a searing reminder of the deadly results of war and has highlighted the importance of peaceful conflict resolution among nation. Though the fear of nuclear annihilation has eased over the last decades, there are still around 10,000 weapons in nuclear arsenals around the world – more than what the world had in 1945. The potential of them falling into the hands of terrorists, or with irrational leaders exists even today.

Nishtha Sharma