Opinion / Editorials

Obama's Hiroshima visit at risk of being hijacked

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-13 07:37

Obama's Hiroshima visit at risk of being hijacked

Bells tolled and thousands bowed their heads in prayer in Hiroshima on Thursday at ceremonies that marked the 70th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing. [Photo/CFP]

The White House has officially announced that US President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima on May 27, the first-ever such visit to the city by a sitting US president. Its implication goes far beyond the impact it will have on Japan and the United States.

The White House stated explicitly that Obama will not apologize for his country's atomic bombing of the city during World War II in 1945, and there is no reason for him to do so.

Yet, it is quite likely the Japanese media and right-wingers will interpret a visit by the US president itself as an apologetic gesture, as they did when US Secretary of State John Kerry visited the city's Memorial Park in April.

World sympathy has often been with the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet, they are also victims of Japanese militarism, something the right-wing groups in Japan constantly try to shun.

To be exact, it is the war of aggression the Japanese militarists launched at the beginning of the last century that is to blame for the bombings.

To the world's dismay, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been trying to whitewash the violence and suffering the Japanese Imperial Army inflicted on the people of the countries it invaded.

The museum in Hiroshima provides hundreds of chilling exhibits and poignant artifacts about the bombing of the city without providing the context in which the US made the decision to drop the bombs. Such an omission reveals, to a large extent, how the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are viewed by quite a large percentage of Japanese.

The Abe administration's lifting of the ban on its military fighting overseas by making changes to its pacifist Constitution has drawn strong reactions from its Asian neighbors.

And the neighbors are right to feel uneasy, given Japan's attitude, its government's attitude in particular, toward its imperialist past. But the Obama administration that voices peace on other occasions has remained largely silent about such moves by its enemy turned ally.

In such a context, it is not hard to imagine how Obama's visit to Hiroshima will be exploited by Japan's right-wing and revisionist groups in favor of their efforts to whitewash the atrocious crimes it committed in neighboring countries.

This will abrogate what the White House claims is Obama's mission of "pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons".

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