Leaked cables show Japan nixed a presidential apology to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for using nukes to end the overseas contingency operation known as World War II. Will the next president apologize for the current one?
A heretofore secret cable dated Sept. 3, 2009, was recently released by WikiLeaks. Sent to Secretary of State Clinton, it reported Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka telling U.S. Ambassador John Roos that “the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a ‘nonstarter.'”
The Japanese feared the apology would be exploited by anti-nuclear groups and those opposed to the defensive alliance between Japan and the U.S.
VFM Yabunaka pointed out that the Japanese public will have high expectations toward President Obama’s visit to Japan in November, as the President enjoys an historic level of popularity among the Japanese people. Anti-nuclear groups, in particular, will speculate whether the President would visit Hiroshima in light of his April 5 Prague speech on non-proliferation. He underscored, however, that both governments must temper the public’s expectations on such issues, as the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a “non-starter.” While a simple visit to Hiroshima without fanfare is sufficiently symbolic to convey the right message, it is premature to include such program in the November visit. Yabunaka recommended that the visit in November center mostly in Tokyo, with calls on the Emperor and Prime Minister, as well as some form of public program, such as speeches, an engagement at a university, or a town hall-like meeting with local residents.
Nowhere in the cable is it stated that Obama was planning to apologize for Hiroshima. The speculation was made by anti-nuclear groups in Japan.
If you want a president that apologized to Japan and Japanese Americans, then Ronald Reagan is your man:
Disclaimer: I do not believe there was anything wrong with either of Reagan’s apologies. Just noting that the real Reagan was different from the myth.