Saturday, May 07, 2016

Apologize for Hiroshima?

It would certainly be in character for Barack Obama, who takes a pretty negative view of America’s role in the world (at least, of most of the things we did before he became president).

But interestingly enough, the Japanese (or at least their government) isn’t keen on the idea, as explained in an article in the Los Angeles Times.

In the first place, the current government is relatively hawkish, and doesn’t welcome the knee-jerk pacifism that bringing up the issue will tend to generate. Then there is this:
“Why doesn’t the Japanese government want Mr. Obama to apologize? Because it tears the scab off a much bigger wound that Japan wants healed,” says Grant Newsham, a senior research fellow with Japan Forum for Strategic Studies and former U.S. diplomat with over 20 years’ experience in Japan.

“If Obama apologizes at Hiroshima, it draws attention to Japanese behavior elsewhere in Asia during the ’30s and ’40s. It might even be demanded that the Japanese government and emperor go to Singapore and apologize for slaughtering 25,000 Chinese there in 1942. Or to Australia to apologize for how they treated their POWs. Or to the Philippines (to apologize) for a few hundred thousand murders by the Imperial Japanese Army as well.”
Apologizing for dropping the atomic bomb is a bit like apologizing for slavery: it’s a form of moral self-pleasuring. It doesn’t make anything any better, and all the people responsible are long since dead.

But it’s worse than that. Dropping the bomb was a horrible way to end a horrible war, but it was less horrible than the alternatives. The ruling Japanese military was willing to fight to the death, and not just to their own death. They were willing to fight to the death of literally millions of Japanese soldiers and civilians.

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