Let’s replace the American president with someone who goes out of his way to humiliate the country and see if anyone notices. Oops, it looks like Japan did notice.
One stop on his tour was Prague in August 2009. There he spoke of “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” ignoring that before 1945 we lived in such a world and it was neither peaceful nor secure.
Another stop on the tour was in Japan, where Obama in November 2009 bowed to the emperor, something no American president had ever done. It could have been worse if plans to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima to apologize for winning the war with the atom bombs had come to pass.
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.
Yes, that’s exactly what the anti-nuclear activists would do. As an old anti-nuclear activist himself, Obama may have known that. Or he may just be an idiot. Let me tell you a military story.
I joined the US Air Force and got sent to Japan in 1993. I was a military reporter, and wound up spending much of my time with the US Navy. At one point, I deployed aboard the USS Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet’s flagship, for a cruise down the coast from Yokosuka to Nagasaki. The visit was the ship’s first ever to that city, and took on many of the trappings of a state visit. It was a big deal, and I was privileged to be a part of it.
The US history with Nagasaki is complicated, as you might expect, but less complicated than folks like our president seem to think. The Blue Ridge and her crew were greeted with a welcoming flotilla of private boats (that had to get out of the way to keep the harbor clear), aircraft and hundreds of well wishers on the shore. I toured the city with some sailors after our arrival, and found the people almost shockingly friendly everywhere we went. They weren’t looking for apologies or an America that’s unsure of herself. They were happy to have a visit by a major ship from their closest ally.
As weird as this sounds, having studied the war and the post-war period extensively and having lived in Japan for years and visited both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I’m convinced that the atomic bombings saved Japan. They saved Japan from her own militarism and from potential Soviet invasion and partition. America bequeathed to our bitter enemy a democracy that functions well to this day, and Japan is our strong friend despite its having raised its hand against us.
America has nothing to apologize for in its conduct or conclusion of that war. Nothing at all.
(h/t to whoever tweeted this story to me)