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Ex-Hiroshima mayor decries Obama's Hiroshima visit without apology

Former Hiroshima Mayor Takashi Hiraoka expressed dissatisfaction with U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Hiroshima on May 27 over the lack of an apology to atomic bomb victims. The following are Hiraoka's comments made during an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun.

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    President Obama once again referred to a world without nuclear weapons, but we shouldn't be unreservedly pleased about that. This is because the United States hasn't changed its stance that the atomic bombings were right. As long as the country justifies the atomic bombings, it could give the country a pretext to use nuclear weapons again. We have pledged, in front of the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims (at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park), that "we shall not repeat the evil." If the president did not admit the mistake of his country's use of the atomic bombs, it makes me wonder what he came to Hiroshima for.

    The "future-oriented" relationship advocated by both the Japanese and U.S. governments sounds to me like they mean to turn a blind eye to the past. If this is accepted, it amounts to Hiroshima having forgiven the United States. Hiroshima, unlike the Japanese government's policy, has upheld a position to "question the responsibility of dropping the atomic bombs." Today, the global norm is that "nuclear weapons are inhuman and cruel weapons of mass destruction." That notion stems from the experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and should never be overturned.

    For us "not to demand an apology" is also disrespectful to those who were mercilessly killed. They shouldn't be using words that degrade those who perished with such sorrow and agony. It is utterly regrettable that the mayor of the city of Hiroshima and the governor of Hiroshima Prefecture announced that they were not demanding an apology (from the United States upon Obama's visit). The atomic bomb victims will be able to rest in peace only after the U.S. pledges it will never use nuclear weapons again and the elimination of nuclear weapons is brought about.

    After President Obama made a speech in Prague in 2009 (calling for a world without nuclear weapons), he has increased nuclear-related budgets. He has budgeted for modernizing nuclear weapons; that is, the development of new weapons. He has yet to have the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty ratified by his country, giving us the impression that his speech was a mere facade. All the more because of this, we must discern what actions he will take after his latest speech.

    Hiroshima is not a room for rent for the president to gloriously mark the end of his years in office. It is a place for making a pledge to eliminate nuclear weapons. I'd say no thank you, if Hiroshima was to be used as a venue for a performance designed to cement Obama's presidential legacy, or for showing off the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance with an eye to China. (Interviewed by Shun Teraoka, Hiroshima Bureau)

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