2:19 PM, Sep 2, 2015 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
A lame duck President Obama, released next year from any lingering political constraints, will make a likely final official visit to Asia to attend the 42nd G-7 summit of leaders of the world’s leading economies. The summit is scheduled to be held in May 2016 in central Japan, not far from Hiroshima. Secretary of State John Kerry will very likely be the first sitting U.S. secretary of state to visit the city that was devastated by an atomic bomb attack in the closing days of the Second World War.
Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported on June 18th that “Hiroshima is expected to host a foreign ministerial meeting of industrialized nations next year, reflecting Japan’s efforts to invite top foreign government officials to cities devastated by the 1945 atomic bombings.” Asahi further quoted Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida as calling on “world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to learn about the disastrous consequences of nuclear bombings.” Japanese diplomatic sources have indicated that foreign ministers attending the G-7 preparatory meeting, including the U.S. secretary of state, would be expected to take part in a ceremony at the Hiroshima peace park, near the site of ground zero.
Kerry indicated his own likely willingness to take part in such a ceremony in comments he made recently during a meeting in Kuala Lumpur with the Japanese Foreign Minister. The AP reported on August 5th that Kerry linked the Hiroshima bombing anniversary to the Iran nuclear deal when he said the Hiroshima anniversary is a “very, very powerful reminder” of the impact of war. Kerry added that it also demonstrates the importance of the Iran deal, adding that he had watched the ceremony in Hiroshima’s peace park on television marking the moment of the atomic blast in 1945.
The actual G-7 summit itself will be held in the resort city of Shima in the central part of the main island of Honshu. The Asahi indicated that, “Hiroshima was a forerunner among eight candidate municipalities that expressed readiness to host the summit. If the city had been chosen, it would have resulted in the first visit to an atomic bombed city by an incumbent U.S. president. However, the city was dropped from the list at the last minute because ‘it would have needed to clear political hurdles in Washington,’ according to a senior Foreign Ministry official.”
American commentators have also recently publicly suggested that President Obama should visit Hiroshima in the waning months of his presidency as “an act of peace.” And Shima, the site of the G-7 summit, is near enough to arrange for a side trip to Hiroshima if President Obama so decides.
Hiroshima would be a perfect venue for President Obama, in the closing weeks of his presidency, to underscore two major themes of his administration: First, a platform to renew the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation themes raised at the beginning of his presidency in his Prague speech in April 2009; and, second, to repeat the apologies contained in his June 2009 Cairo speech regarding Western past mistreatment of non-Western peoples through such venues as colonialism and the Inquisition.
Neither the American president nor the secretary has indicated any concern over likely unintended consequences of such deeply symbolic actions. Yet Tokyo clearly comprehends the weighty historic implications of such gestures. Japan’s Mainichi newspaper reported in January that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was considering a stop at Pearl Harbor in April en route to Washington for an official visit in order to “demonstrate his desire for a framework for international peace by paying his solemn respects to the dead," according to a government official. This would have proved a precedent-setting historic gesture, as no Japanese Prime Minister has ever visited the site of the December 1941 surprise attack that brought the United States into the Second World War. Abe of course, in apparent deference to the revisionist views of his ultra-nationalist, domestic political base, overflew Hawaii without any stopover, thereby missing a golden opportunity to demonstrate historic reconciliation with his U.S. ally.
Considering the context.4:00 PM, Aug 27, 2015 • By DANIEL GELERNTER
Many of my friends think Hiroshima was an unjustifiable atrocity.
Humanitarians in uniform.Aug 17, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 46 • By WARREN KOZAK
Many years ago, I struck up a conversation with a Dutch businessman in a hotel in China. In the course of our discussion, I learned that he had been born in Asia, in the Dutch East Indies, today known as Indonesia. I quickly calculated that he was old enough to have been alive during World War II, so I asked what happened to him?
He told me that he and his parents spent the entire war in a Japanese prison camp.
“What was that like?” I asked.
9:43 PM, Jun 6, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The boss marks the D-Day anniversary with Ronald Reagan's words (and more!):
7:21 AM, May 7, 2015 • By MICHAEL MAKOVSKY
Friday marks the seventieth anniversary of Victory in Europe, or V-E, Day, when the Allies accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender after six long years of war. No one should have savored that day in 1945 more than Winston Churchill, the wartime British prime minister.
7:32 AM, Jan 5, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will "express remorse" for World War II, the Associated Press reports.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that his government would express remorse for World War II on the 70th anniversary of its end in August.
The end of World War II meant the end of empires. Oct 21, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 07 • By ALONZO L. HAMBY
Franklin D. Roosevelt, meeting with his son Elliott at the beginning of the Casablanca conference in January 1943, went out of his way to voice his revulsion at the ugliness of British imperialism by referring to his transit through the tiny British colony of Gambia:
Dirt. Disease. Very high mortality rate. . . . Life expectancy—you’d never guess what it is. Twenty-six years. These people are treated worse than livestock. Their cattle live longer!
Could just open the Memorial...9:36 AM, Oct 2, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
At least four National Park Service workers are erecting a barricade around the World War II memorial, John McCormack reports:
The rebirth of the national pastime after World War II.May 6, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 32 • By COLIN FLEMING
In an American sports world where football is king, the notion of baseball as our country’s national pastime is a quaint one, a sort of nostalgic throwback to a bygone era, like westerns in the 1940s or heroic literature in the century after the Crusades.
8:00 AM, Nov 1, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
From December 1941 to August 1945, the United States of America joined the other Allied powers and fought against the Axis powers in Europe and the Pacific, during the greatest and most destructive war in all of human history.
8:08 AM, May 11, 2012 • By LIAM JULIAN
“Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape” is at the National Gallery of Art through August 12. The conceit of the exhibit is that Miró was no sequestered surrealist but an artist readily engaged with politics and society—“an artist of his times,” as a wall caption puts it. Visitors reading that caption might well wonder how Miró could be anything but of his “times,” for they surely were interesting ones.
A haunted vision of a people in extremis. Feb 20, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 22 • By SUSANNE KLINGENSTEIN
The great tragedy of Yiddish literature is that, at the very moment when it was blossoming into modernity in all genres, its writers, audience, and cultural matrix were completely destroyed by the double knockout punch of German and Soviet anti-Semitism.
The old story: European politician gets in trouble, helps the Jews.Feb 13, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 21 • By SAM SCHULMAN