It has been over 71 years since the last devastating Second World War (World War II) that lasted from 1939-1945. Commonly known as the most widespread and deadliest war in human existence and history, with an estimate of more than 85 million deaths, World War II admitted the involvement of more than 30 countries and resulted in more than 50 million military and civilian deaths. It should be noted that the war was sparked by Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939 and during the final stage of the war after the Quebec Agreement, the United States, with the validation of the United Kingdom drooped Nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th of August 1945.
Seven decades after United States dropped the first two atomic bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, President Barack Obama of the United States of America decided to make a historic visit to Hiroshima, on Friday 27th May 2016 without visiting Nagasaki, where the souls of 74,000 people were lost in a US nuclear attack three days after Hiroshima. However this visit has been criticised by many in the likes of North Korea, China and South Korea, a key US ally in the region. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said though it is important for the President to visit Hiroshima, it should not be forgotten that Japanese troops were responsible for the massacre of civilians in the city of Nanjing and that they deserve greater reflection, he says, “Hiroshima is worthy of attention. But even more so Nanjing should not be forgotten”. Even South Korean newspapers provoked anger in Japan by saying the attack was a form of punishment as, “God often borrows the hand of a human to punish the evil deeds of men”. The foreign ministry in Beijing said Japan should not forget the “grave suffering” it perpetrated upon its neighbours during the war, and added to this a state run China Daily said the “atomic bombings of Japan were of its own making” accusing Japan of “trying to portray Japan as the victim of World War II rather than one of its major perpetrators”.
It is strictly clear that President Obama is the first sitting President of the US to make such a move to Hiroshima out of his eleven predecessors who decided against going. Upon arrival, Obama made his first move to the Marine Corps air station in Iwakuni where he was expected to deliver a speech before he moving to the Hiroshima memorial park to lay a wreath. At Iwakuni Obama made some remark’s to US and Japanese military and hailed “great alliance” with Japan in his speech proclaiming, “We are reaffirming one of the greatest alliances in the world between Japan and the United States”.
It should also be noted that as part of the security alliance that rose from American occupation in the aftermath of the world war in Japan the US stationed in the country around 47,000 personnel. The president told the crowd of uniformed men and women. “We can never forget that we have to honour all of those who have given everything for our freedom. I am very proud of you”.
President Barack Obama saw in his visit a bright future for the two countries as their cooperation will be heighten. He said, “It’s a testament to how even the most painful divides can be bridged. How two nations can become not just partners but the best of friends”.
Before leaving for Hiroshima, Barack Obama replied to some journalist saying:
“I want to once again underscore the very real risks that are out there and the sense of urgency that we all should have. So it’s not only a reminder of the terrible toll of the World War II and the death of innocents across continents, but it’s also to remind ourselves that the job is not done in reducing conflict, building institutions of peace, and reducing the prospect of nuclear war in the future. I some ways, we’ve seen real progress over the last several years. The Iran nuclear deal is a big piece of business – because without us having to fire a shot, we were able to persuade a big, sophisticated country that had a well – developed nuclear weapons.”
Accompanied by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the President moved to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum where he laid a wreath on the museum’s cenotaph and called for a “World without nuclear Weapons” and also wrote in the museum’s guest book before his speech that he hoped the world will “find the courage, together, to spread peace and pursue a world without nuclear weapons”. The President added at the site of the first nuclear bombings that “a flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself”. During the president visit, many people thought it wise for the President to apologise for the bombings, but many Japanese including the Shinzo Abe and one of the survivors, Sunao Tsuboi said, “We do not need apologies.” He went further to meet and hug the 79-year-old man Mori Shigeaki, one of the survivors of the attack.
It is equally amazing that the main goal of President Obama was to tackle the problems nuclear weapons can cause now and in future and that alone symbolises his visit to Hiroshima, thereby sending an indirect alert to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un who thinks his own legitimacy is tied up with developing nuclear weapons. Subsequently this kind of visit demonstrated by Barack Obama will go a long way tighten the US-Japan relations.
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