John Kerry won’t apologise for Hiroshima during his visit

Secretary of State John Kerry will not apologise over Hiroshima bombing from US during his Japan visit

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

G7 foreign ministers walk together after placing wreaths at the cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum in Hiroshima, Japan April 11, 2016.

John Kerry, who on Monday became the first US secretary of state to pay respects at Hiroshima's memorial to victims of the 1945 US nuclear attack, described a museum there as "stunning" and "gut-wrenching" and said it was a reminder to all in public life to work for a world free of nuclear weapons.

However, an apology for the United States for bombing Japan is not expected in this visit, a senior US official said.

"If you are asking whether the secretary of state came to Hiroshima to apologise, the answer is no," a senior US official told reporters late on Sunday.

"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," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.

Kerry, accompanied by foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum.

The ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States then laid wreaths at a cenotaph to the victims of the Aug. 6, 1945 bombing, which reduced the city to ashes and killed some 140,000 people by the end of that year.

While he is not the highest-ranking US official to have toured the museum and memorial park, a distinction that belongs to then-US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in 2008, Kerry is the senior-most executive branch official to visit.

"Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial. It is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself," the chief US diplomat wrote in a guest book at the museum.

After a moment of silence by the ministers, Japanese school children presented them with lei's made of paper cranes, symbolising peace, in each country's national colours.

G7 foreign ministers walk together after placing wreaths at the cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum in Hiroshima, Japan, April 11, 2016.

After Hiroshima was hit by a nuclear bomb by a US warplane, Nagasaki had the same fate on Aug. 9, 1945. Japan surrendered six days later.

Kerry's visit could pave the way for Obama’s visit to Hiroshima when he attends the annual G7 leaders summit in another Japanese city next month.

A visit could be controversial in America if it were viewed as an apology. A majority of Americans still view the bombings as justified to end the war and save US lives, while the vast majority of Japanese believe it was not justified.

Hopes for Obama's visit to Hiroshima were raised after his April 2009 speech in Prague calling for a world without nuclear weapons. He later said that he would be honoured to visit the two nuclear-attacked cities.

The G7 foreign ministers' trip to the museum and memorial is part of Japan's effort to send a strong nuclear disarmament message from Hiroshima, the world's first city to suffer an atomic bombing.

"I hope that (the G7 ministers meeting) will send a strong message from Hiroshima for a world without nuclear weapons," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo.

Kishida said the ministers will discuss anti-terrorism steps, maritime security and issues related to North Korea, Ukraine and the Middle East.

TRTWorld, Reuters