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article imageOp-Ed: During Hirshima visit, Obama should not apologize for atomic bomb

By Marcus Hondro     May 22, 2016 in World
Many in Japan, and the world, believe U.S. President Barack Obama should apologize for the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end WW2. The U.S., however, has said that when Obama visits Hiroshima next week there will be no apology.
Refusal to surrender
The bombing of those two cities is one of the most horrific events of the 20th century, but does that mean there should be an apology given in Hiroshima on May 27? Placing blame for the bombings is a complicated affair but America, despite designing, building and dropping the bombs, is not the major culprit.
Not by a long shot.
No blame lies principally in three places: 1) on Japanese Emperor Hirohito (he's known posthumously as Emperor Shōwa in Japan); 2) on the country's wartime government and 3) on Japan's culture of the day, with its outdated code of shame which made surrender virtually impossible.
The war between the two nations started with Japan's aggression in China and in other Asian countries; that aggression led the U.S. to issue economic sanctions on Japan. How did Japan respond? By their treacherous attack on Pearl Harbor, sending a political delegation in Washington to declare war only after the attack had begun.
Japan became an ally of Hitler's Nazi Germany and Mussolini's murderous Fascist Italian regime. But the country, like her allies, had been long defeated by August 7, 1945 when that first atomic bomb exploded. They had no chance of winning yet continued, allowing civilians to face deprivations that lead to disease and death and soldiers to fight and die.
Despite opportunities to surrender and a hopeless situation their armies still fought, more often continuing a battle until a 90 percent causality rate; historically armies surrender at a 30 percent casualty rate and their stubbornness was needlessly costing lives on both sides.
Further, the government and army were preparing to arm even civilians for the anticipated U.S. invasion of the Japanese peninsula. And rather than considering surrender there were high-levels talks of orchestrating a mass suicide, and by August of 1945 Japan's soldiers had long been ordered to take their own lives rather than give up.
Japanese WW2 propaganda
America, which lost over 415,000 citizens, mostly from the military, to the war, was forced to devise a plan to invade the peninsula as a means to stop Japan's aggression. The predicted numbers of deaths, from both sides, vary, but most agree one million, and possibly many more. That along with destruction to cites and towns.
Could America have done nothing? No. The wounded Japanese army was fighting on, targeting even civilians. In the last years of the war they were using kamikaze pilots to fly bomb-laden planes into American ships and other interests (3,860 young Japanese pilots died doing so). They'd also begun using young men to pilot explosive 'midget subs' onto targets.
On July 30, just 8 days prior to the dropping of the first atomic bomb, the U.S.S. Indianapolis was torpedoed by Japan, with the loss of some 900 of the 1,196 sailors on board.
Further, propaganda by the Japanese government and armed forces had many convinced they were winning the war. Right up until the bomb was dropped, despite incredible privations forced upon them by the war, many of Japan's citizens continued to think victory was assured and surrender unthinkable.
Obama in Hiroshima
While those in the military are mostly young men who have joined up to fight for their country and arguably deserve to live as much as anyone else, military targets are of course considered fair game in war, civilians targets less so. Hiroshima in 1945 had far more army and navy personal than civilians, a reason it was chosen for that first bomb.
As historian C. Peter Chen writes, Hiroshima became the unfortunate city to suffer the worst bombing in history because of its military value. Again, most of the victims of that first atomic bomb were members of the military who were intending harm upon the U.S.
"Hiroshima was chosen as the first target due to its military and industrial values," Chen writes on his WW2 history site. "As a military target, Hiroshima was a major army base that housed the headquarters of the Japanese 5th Division and the 2nd Army Headquarters. It was also an important port in southern Japan and a communications center."
Though Ronald Reagan was in Hiroshima before his presidency and Jimmy Carter visited there after his, President Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city. It's an historic moment that Japan, now a peace-loving nation, and indeed the world, should embrace.
But there will be, rightly so, no apology.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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