Not this time, Mr. PresidentJapanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry co-orchestrated the Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministerial talks in Hiroshima, the hometown of Kishida. Kerry stressed the importance of the international cooperation pushed forward by the Obama administration in the press conference. “Everyone should visit Hiroshima, and ‘everyone’ means everyone,” he added. “So I hope one day, the president of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here.” It was an overt encouragement to Obama, who will visit Ise-Shima on May 26 for G-7 summit.
“We emphasize the importance of our meeting in Hiroshima seventy one years after World War II, which unleashed unprecedented horror upon the world. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced immense devastation and human suffering as a consequence of the atomic bombings and have rebuilt their cities so impressively,” the Hiroshima Declaration, adopted at the G-7 Foreign Ministerial talks, started.
About 210,000 were killed by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and 400,000 suffered from radiation exposures. Of the victims, about 30,000 dead were Koreans and another 40,000 were estimated to have suffered from radiation exposures.
66 years later, the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in March 2011 produced yet another calamity.
Japan is standing in a unique position for having become the true test bed of the modern power of nuclear energy.
As members of the human community and global society, we must be endlessly humble before the fact that the tragedies of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima must never be repeated and that they are challenges to be overcome.
We must see the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the disaster of Fukushima with a comprehensive social, political and apocalyptic perspective.
We can cherish peace and build peace from the three nuclear disasters of Japan when we treat peace not just a concept opposite to war, but as a historical and judicial concept, as well.
Japan, in this regard, has a very contradictory record.
Although it started the devastating Pacific War, it has no official war memorial. Yushukan, of the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan only recorded the end of the war, without mentioning and accepting its defeat, is a classic example. The peace in Hiroshima Peace Park is also very contradictory.
Former state secretary William Perry visited Hiroshima twice. In his contribution to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun’s Dec. 31, 2010 edition, he recalled that he felt a sense of incompatibility when he saw the displays of atomic bombs in Hiroshima because there were many documents and photos conveying the devastation, but there was not a single mention of why the tragedy took place.
He wrote that he found no reflection in Hiroshima on why Japan fell into the tragedy of the atomic bombing, and this gave him great cause for concern.
Despite its nuclear calamity, the rightists of the country, from Yasuhiro Nakasone to Shinzo Abe, consistently promoted a nuclear-armed Japan since 1950s.
The father of Japan’s nuclear power is not a scientist, but a politician — Nakasone. When he was the director general of the Defense Agency in 1970, he argued that the Japanese Constitution does not prevent the country from developing nuclear arms for self-defense purposes. In April 2006, he also argued that the country needs to think about a nuclear arms policy in case of a grand change such as a breakup of the U.S.-Japan security treaty.
At the time, Abe supported the argument by saying it is impossible to stop the discussion on nuclear arming. Taro Aso, then foreign minister and current vice prime minister, also supported the argument.
They have never recanted their remarks on a nuclear-armed Japan. And they are still the living power of Japan.
The good will of a “world without nuclear weapons,” started from Obama’s 2009 Prague declaration and his efforts to push forward a peace without nuclear arms, are extremely impressive. As a Nobel Prize winner, he probably has a personal motive to promote the message of peace without nuclear arms by visiting the Hiroshima Peace Park.
But Obama is the president of the United States and the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military. Taking into account the geopolitical reality of Asia, Kerry is enough to visit Hiroshima.
Obama must consider visiting Hiroshima after Japanese leaders, including Nakasone and the current prime minister and vice prime minster, withdraw their remarks, and after questioning Japan about its true intentions regarding its contradictory nuclear weapons policy.
Only when a Japanese prime minister pay visits to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall of China and the Independence Hall of Korea and promotes the “peace of justice,” and only when a U.S. president visits the War Memorial in Hanoi, can the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military visit Hiroshima. Now is not the time.
Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in 2016, if realized, can be a production of realpolitik toward China and the two Koreas, but it won’t be a production of universal peace for a Nobel Peace Prize winner, as long as Japan’s antinomic nuclear policy does not end.
If Obama visits Hiroshima after his term and explains the challenges of our civilization to his two daughters, it will be a means by which to compelling move to promote denuclearization and peace.
Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.
JoongAng Ilbo, Apr. 18, Page 29
*The author, a former minister of science and technology, is chairman of the World Peace Forum.