As the Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministers conference begins in Hiroshima, Japan, John Kerry is set to become the first ever United States Secretary of State to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which commemorates the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on the city in 1945. He will be joined by his counterparts from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Kerry has made it clear that while visiting, he will not be apologizing for the decision made by President Harry S. Truman more than 70 years ago to drop the bombs. "If you are asking whether the secretary of state came to Hiroshima to apologize, the answer is no,” said a senior state department official who is currently traveling with Kerry in Japan.
In a decision that has been considered controversial for decades, President Truman agreed to drop atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order, Truman would claim in his radio announcement following the bombing, to avoid the enormous loss of American life that would have been inevitable following an invasion of mainland Japan.
The bomb fell on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. A statement issued by President Truman at the time declared the bomb to be more than 2,000 times more powerful than the largest bomb ever previously used. It killed approximately 140,000 people. The second atomic bomb was dropped three days later on the Japanese port city of Nagasaki.
While there will be no apology, a discussion on nuclear weapons is on the agenda for the G-7 meeting in Hiroshima following Japan’s call to end nuclear weapons last August on the 70th anniversary of the bombing.
The same senior state department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added "if you are asking whether the secretary and I think all Americans and all Japanese are filled with sorrow at the tragedies that befell so many of our countrymen, the answer is yes.”
Secretary Kerry’s current trip could potentially set in motion a visit to Hiroshima by President Obama – which would be the first ever by an American president – during his stay in Japan for the annual G-7 conference next month.
While Kerry and the United States will not be apologizing for the bombings, Japan recently reiterated its apologies for Japanese actions and the American lives lost during the war.
In an address to the joint meeting of the United States Congress that took place a year ago in April, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that, “on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.”