Hiroshima memorial visit: unspoken apology or commitment to disarmament?
While some Japanese still want an apology for the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Obama Administration called the first official US visit to the annual Hiroshima commemoration a demonstration of its commitment to nuclear disarmament.
While some Japanese still want an apology for the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and on Nagasaki three days later, President Barack Obama's administration is calling it a demonstration of its commitment to nuclear disarmament.
Opinion is also divided in the US, where many believe the nuclear attacks hastened Japan’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945 without the need for a potentially catastrophic land invasion.
IN PICTURES: Hiroshima bombing 65th anniversary
Gene Tibbets, whose deceased father, Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets, piloted the Enola Gay, said that the decision to attend the ceremony amounted to an “unspoken apology” for the attack.
“It's making the Japanese look like they're the poor people, like they didn't do anything,” he told Fox News this week. “They hit Pearl Harbor, they struck us. We didn't slaughter the Japanese. We stopped the war.”
Indeed, retired Army Air Corps Captain Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay and only still-surviving crew member, told the English Russian news channel RT, "The Japanese you know today are not the Japanese we fought during World War II." He said, "We had been in a long war, had been attacked by the Japanese, and the policy of the US government at that time was to subdue the nation of Japan."
High profile attendees, but no Obama
The US ambassador to Japan, John Roos, was among more than 70 foreign envoys attending the ceremony, held 65 years to the day since an American B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the city. An estimated 140,000 people were killed instantly or died later from the effects of radiation.