Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima, Japan, the site of the atomic bomb detonation. After visiting and laying wreaths at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, he gave a speech in which he said we must “pursue a world without nuclear weapons."* By mentioning that the bombing was right and necessary at the time, he made it clear that the purpose of the visit was not to apologize. Even so, his visit to Hiroshima to mourn for its victims was an act of great courage, considering the significant opposition he faced within the United States. It’s also noteworthy that he mentioned Korean victims in the bombing. However, he did not visit the Korean memorial located in the same park, which is regrettable given that the Korean victims suffered twice as much as the Japanese: from colonial oppression and atomic bomb exposure.
Despite the historical significance of the Hiroshima visit, Obama missed a couple of things. First of all, a "nuclear-free world” may just remain an empty slogan with its outlook today. Just yesterday, Obama brought up the topic without providing a concrete plan for execution. He hardly shows the effort expected of a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the president of the world's largest nuclear power. Rather, the U.S. government has decided to invest trillions of dollars for the improvement of nuclear weapons, a rather dualistic behavior. If Obama wants to reinforce the significance of the Hiroshima visit – to pursue a nuclear-free world – he should come up with a drastic solution. Such can be achieved not simply by non-proliferation but also nuclear disarmament and disposal. It’s time to discard the passive attitude and adopt a more forward approach to the nuclear issue.
The distortion of history (regarding invasion) and the pursuit of a military nation by the Abe Regime are implanting anxiety in neighboring countries. Nevertheless, Obama has accompanied Abe, who seeks an anti-nuclear reversal contrary to the spirit of Hiroshima. This is the reason this historical visit, almost 71 years after the bombing, doesn’t seem very historical. It will definitely strengthen the U.S. - Japan alliance, but it’s unlikely to resolve the conflict between Japan and its neighbors. Obama should keep this in mind and be on alert.
*Editor’s note: Obama’s actual words were, “Among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”