U.S. president Barack Obama told Japanese media on Sunday there will be no apology for the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, amid calls by survivors’ groups for a formal apology.
Obama’s visit to the city that the U.S. devastated in World War II is a historic one – he will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the memorial park, accompanied by Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
Last week, the White House stressed there would be no apology, which Abe said was not necessary. However, a Tokyo-based survivors’ group said in a news conference last week that many survivors wish for Obama to meet them and apologize personally for the devastation that took place.
A report by the American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) quoted a survivor of the bombing, Toshiki Fujimori, saying he felt it was awkward hearing government officials, including Abe, say they would not be asking for an apology.
Fujimori said: “I suspect there was pressure [not to seek an apology] to create an atmosphere that would make it easier for Obama to visit Hiroshima. But many survivors don’t think they can do without an apology at all.”
But the U.S. president has made it clear there will be no apology in an interview with Japanese national broadcaster NHK, citing the reality of leaders having to make difficult decisions during times of war.
According to Reuters, Obama said: “It’s important to recognize that in the midst of war, leaders make all kinds of decisions, it’s a job of historians to ask questions and examine them.
“But I know, as somebody who’s now sat in this position for the last seven and half years, that every leader makes very difficult decisions, particularly during wartime.”
Instead, Obama believes that emphasis needs to be placed on the present relationship between Japan and the U.S., who used to be enemies during the war.
He said: “I think it is also a happy story about how former adversaries came together to become one of the closest partnerships and closest allies in the world.”