Friday marked the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. That’s 65 years of mourning for a city that lost 150,000 people in almost an instant. But it was the first year the city of Hiroshima marked the somber event with a US envoy present.
In a statement to the press, US Ambassador John Roos said, “For the sake of future generations, we must continue to work together to realize a world without nuclear weapons.”
As author and longtime opponent of nuclear weapons Robert Jay Lifton told Democracy Now! in the above video:
… the traditional American response to August 6th has been to justify the use of the weapon on many of the media, saying that this cruelest weapon ever devised saved lives rather than took lives. This is a reversal of that position. It’s joining in the commemoration of a tragedy and the embrace of an anti-nuclear position. So I take it to be extremely important.
Having attended Hiroshima anniversary vigils in past years—where even members of the Japanese Embassy were too uncomfortable acknowledging our presence for fear of embarrassing their modern-day US allies—I can appreciate the historic magnitude of this gesture by President Obama. At the same time, however, it is sad that such a simple—and no doubt, long deserved—act would carry such weight. After all, Obama hasn’t physically moved any closer to fulfilling his commitment to abolitish of nuclear weapons.
That being said, this is no time for activists to dampen this truly important moment. It’s an opportunity to keep the dialogue open about nuclear weapons and continue pushing for their abolition.