The Stream

Obama’s Hiroshima visit

How far have US-Japan relations come since World War Two?

No sitting US President has visited Hiroshima, Japan since the United States dropped an atomic bomb there in 1945, killing 140,000 people. That will change this week when President Barack Obama visits the city as part of an effort to “emphasise friendly ties between former enemies” and “continue to strive for a world without nuclear weapons.” Though Obama has stated he will not apologise for the bombing, some survivors are hoping he will. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center poll, 79 percent of Japanese respondents see the Hiroshima bombing, as well as the one in Nagasaki three days later, as unjustified.

The Japanese government, however, has said an apology is not necessary. Some experts say this might be due to concerns a US apology would bolster Japan’s anti-nuclear activists and undermine Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to build up the country’s military and nuclear capabilities. An apology could also push Japan to address its own behaviour during World War Two. In the US, many World War Two veterans oppose the idea of their President apologising to Japan, fearing their own service would be forgotten in the process.

At 19:30 GMT we’ll discuss the significance of Obama’s trip.

On this episode of The Stream, we’ll speak to:

Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor 

Akiko Mikamo
Psychologist & daughter of atomic bomb survivor

Yujiro Taniyama @YujiroTaniyama

Daniel Bob @SasakawaUSA
Senior Fellow, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.