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Saturday, April 23, 2016

The President Shouldn't Go to Hiroshima

For John, BLUFIt isn't just about us.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) we have PacNet #38 - "Not this time, Mr. President".

The author is Mr Kim Jin-Hyun, chairman of the World Peace Forum, a member of the Pacific Forum CSIS Board of Governors, and a former Republic of Korea minister of science and technology.  This article was originally published in the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Here is how the article begins:

Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio and US Secretary of State John Kerry co-orchestrated the Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministerial talks in Hiroshima, Kishida's hometown.  Kerry stressed the importance of the international cooperation pushed by the Obama administration in a press conference.  "Everyone should visit Hiroshima, and 'everyone' means everyone," he added.  "So I hope one day, the president of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here."  It was overt encouragement to Obama, who will visit Ise Shima on May 26 for the G-7 summit.

"We emphasize the importance of our meeting in Hiroshima 71 years after World War II, which unleashed unprecedented horror upon the world.  The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced immense devastation and human suffering as a consequence of the atomic bombings and have rebuilt their cities so impressively," the Hiroshima Declaration adopted at the G-7 Foreign Ministerial talks said.

About 210,000 people were killed by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and 400,000 suffered from radiation exposure. Of the victims, about 30,000 of the dead were Koreans and another 40,000 were estimated to have suffered from radiation exposure.  Sixty-six years later, the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in March 2011 produced yet another calamity.

Japan is in a unique position for having become the true test bed of the modern power of nuclear energy.

Then Mr Kim looks, through the eyes of former US SecDef William Perry, at how Japan views this issue.
Former US Defense Secretary William Perry visited Hiroshima twice.  Writing in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun on Dec. 31, 2010, he recalled that he felt a sense of incompatibility when he saw the displays of atomic bombs in Hiroshima because there were many documents and photos conveying the devastation, but there was not a single mention of why the tragedy took place.  He wrote that he found no reflection in Hiroshima on why Japan experienced the tragedy of the atomic bombings, and this gave him great concern.  Despite its nuclear calamity, rightists of the country, from Nakasone Yasuhiro to Abe Shinzo, consistently promoted a nuclear-armed Japan since the 1950s.
That view comes out with Japan doing the "poor me" thing and not manning up to accept its responsibilities for a terrible war, which it helped trigged when it invaded China back in July of 1937.  And, there was the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-94), which involved the conquest of Korea by Japan.

Then we get the broad gauge view, the idea that Japan needs to do some visiting of its own.  Hiroshima should be the climax, not the beginning.

Obama must consider visiting Hiroshima after Japanese leaders, including Nakasone and the current prime minister and vice prime minster, withdraw their remarks, and after questioning Japan about its true intentions regarding its contradictory nuclear weapons policy.  Only when a Japanese prime minister visits the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall of China and the Independence Hall of Korea and promotes "peace of justice," and only when a US president visits the War Memorial in Hanoi, can the commander-in-chief of the US military visit Hiroshima.  Now is not the time.

Obama's visit to Hiroshima in 2016, if realized, would reflect realpolitik toward China and the two Koreas, but it won't reflect the desire for universal peace by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, not as long as Japan's contradictory nuclear policy continues.  If Obama visits Hiroshima after his term and explains the challenges of our civilization to his two daughters, then it will be a compelling move to promote denuclearization and peace.

But, then, I wasn't asked.  But, like a typical American, I have opinion, and it aligns with Mr Kim.  Now is not the time to go.

Regards  —  Cliff

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