Japan's foreign minister calls A-bombings extremely regrettable

Updated: 2016-05-24 14:28


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TOKYO -- Ahead of a planned visit by US President Barack Obama to the City of Hiroshima, Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday that the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were "extremely regrettable."

Kishida, whose lower house constituency is in Hiroshima, also said that the action of the US against the two A-bombed cities ran contrary to the basic understanding of humanitarianism as regards international law.

While Obama is expected to pay a courtesy visit to Hiroshima this Friday as the President will be in Japan from a day earlier for the two-day Group of Seven leaders' summit to be held in Mie Prefecture, central Japan, marking the first such visit to one of the A-bombed cities by a sitting US President, Obama is not expected to deliver an official apology.

"Due to the atomic bombings, many lives have been lost and an extremely regrettable humanitarian situation was brought about," Kishida said Tuesday, adding, "The stance of the Japanese government has always been that the atomic bombings do not conform to humanitarianism, which constitutes a philosophical basis of international law."

Calls from survivors, known here locally as "hibakusha" and their relatives, as well as from relatives of the hundreds of thousands who died in the wake of the atomic bombings, for Obama to issue and official apology have been rampant.

If the president truly believes and hopes that his calls made in Prague in 2009 for a nuclear weapon free world will continue to be deemed credible, then, along with his ongoing nonproliferation efforts, an earnest apology for the attacks at this historic occasion, could underscore his and the US's true sentiment and stance on the issue on the perfect global stage, according to some petitioners.

Many are still reeling from diseases associated with radiation from the atomic attacks, which themselves eviscerated the lives of at least 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 74,000 in Nagasaki.

Local media in Japan reported Thursday that activists and scholars in the US have also been urging Obama to meet with the "hibakusha" and apologize to them in person on Friday.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK said that as many as seventy-four people had petitioned the White House on Monday, saying that the president should do more towards nonproliferation efforts around the globe.

They also called for Obama to discuss the historical situation surrounding the deadly nuclear attacks, NHK reported quoting local sources.

Conversely, it seems to be popular belief that the bombs were dropped to force Japan to end the war, and that the drastic move actually saved many lives that would have been lost in a full-scale land assault, or an intensified bombing campaigns in 1945.

Further complicating the issue is the fact that Japanese scientists were also, according to some legitimate historical military accounts, not far from developing their own nuclear weapons, which, if had come to fruition, could have seen an even more disastrous outcome of WWII.

The matter of an apology has become further knotty owing to the fact that Japan currently has stockpiles of weapons grade nuclear materials, with this situation putting Japan under a hypocritical spotlight, exacerbated by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump strongly suggesting that the US stop trying to prevent its allies, specifically Japan and South Korea, from obtaining nuclear weapons, so as to lessen their reliance on the US nuclear umbrella.

The remarks were quickly blasted by many corners, including those in Japan and South Korea, as well as from Obama himself, but the sentiment expressed by Trump has irked and added to rising tensions in this region, as the election race in the US is far from over, while the outgoing president is winding down his foreign policy initiatives.