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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Obama visit to Hiroshima would support dialogue & reconciliation between Japan & Asia-Pacific - 60+years overdue

What would be the significance of a visit to Hiroshima by the president of the nation that dropped atomic bombs on Japan and the world's largest nuclear power?

The Chugoku Shimbun asked Fumio Matsuo, former head of the Washington bureau of Kyodo News and Emiko Okada, 72, an atomic bomb survivor from Hiroshima, to share their thoughts on this issue:
For Hiroshima, which has continued to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons, a visit by U.S. President Obama would certainly be highly significant. But a visit by the president must be looked at from a broader perspective. It should be an opportunity for Japan to achieve a historic reconciliation with the U.S. as well as the countries of Asia.
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I work as a volunteer at the Peace Memorial Museum. When I guide foreigners on tours of the museum and tell them about my experiences, I always begin by talking about Japan's past mistakes because I have learned from many visitors from Asia of the terrible things Japan did in the region.

Among the young Chinese and Korean visitors to the museum, there have been some whose grandfathers were killed by the Japanese Imperial Army or were forced to use Japanese names and speak Japanese. Even if two countries have resolved the historical issues between them in a political and a financial sense, those involved continue to feel that the issues will never be resolved. When I learned that, I realized that it was not enough to just talk about the damages suffered in Japan...

The relationships of trust that we build between people form the basis of relationships between countries. I would like the young people who will lead the next generation to make a particular effort to learn about Asia's past and create opportunities to have dialogues among themselves.

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