President Barack Obama has visited the Peace Memorial Park at Hiroshima, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has no intention of reciprocating with a visit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The U.S. president said he visited Hiroshima to “honor all WWII dead.” All, Mr. President? Kamikaze’s? Nazi’s? Pearl Harbor bombers? Bataan Death March Imperial Japanese? Murderous SS troops who massacred defenseless American POW’s? All Mr. President?
On the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, President Ronald Reagan said: “We must never forget what nuclear weapons wrought upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet we must also remain mindful that our maintenance of a strong nuclear deterrent has for four decades ensured the security of the United States and the freedom of our allies in Asia and Europe.”
Nearly 22 years ago, Emperor Akihito visited a war dead cemetery just a few miles from Pearl Harbor on a stopover on his way to North America. His original itinerary included a visit to the memorial at the site of the capsized U.S.S. Arizona, still entombing 1,100 sailors, but protests from right wing Japanese altered his plans. The right wingers claimed Japan was provoked by a United States’ embargo at the time.
No sitting American president should ever visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki, until or unless a sitting Japanese Prime Minister or Emperor visits Pearl Harbor. Apologies aside, showing up is an act of support and sympathy.
Embargo or not, a true act of war such as the killing of 2,400 people at dawn on a Sunday should rate a full and sincere apology. If not, stay far away from even the slightest perception of sympathy for those who caused over 100,000 U.S. casualties in the Pacific after the sneak attack on December 7, 1941.
Absent the nuclear attacks by the U.S. on Imperial Japan in the summer of 1945 it is estimated that over one million Americans would have lost their lives fighting conventionally to subdue the Japanese. The Imperial Japanese had already mobilized women and children in its defense.
In war, right and wrong can be overcome by what is necessary. Survival is necessary.
Apologies without sincere repentance are mere political gestures. Obama may have gotten away with both. After laying a wreath at the Peace Park and “honoring all war dead,” he lamented nuclear weapons, the very things that have secured relative peace and prosperity in Europe and Japan for over 70 years.
The President’s biggest mistakes have been withdrawing from victories and stability, only to find himself in a quagmire not seen since the Vietnam War. Iraq and Afghanistan were pacified and peaceful before draw downs and withdrawals were ordered by the President.
Now we find ourselves still losing heroes in pointless and ineffective military missions that dishonor theirs and the lives and ground lost previously.
All WWII dead, Mr. President? On this Memorial Day weekend? Not on your life.