John Kerry became the first Secretary of State to step foot on the ground that was devastated by the atomic-bomb decades ago when U.S. forces dropped the bomb taking 140,000 lives. Kerry wasn’t there to apologize and while he paid his respects to the people who were lost that day, he used the visit to share his hopes for a nuclear-free world.
Kerry didn’t speak to the crowd as he stood at the revered memorial to Hiroshima’s atomic bombing with other foreign ministers, according to WAFF News on April 11. He was seen with his arm around a Hiroshima native, the Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida as they stood just feet away from ground zero of that bomb.
It has been seven decades since history was made with the U.S. using this bomb for the first time killing all those people and leaving scars on generations that followed. It was August 6, 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and at that time Kerry was just a baby at 2-years-old, so he was far removed from the government that made the decision to obliterate the city.
Most would agree that despite the many years that have gone by, it still had to feel awkward standing in a place that the country you hailed from caused massive death, pain and suffering with the act of dropping that bomb. U.S. leaders have avoided this site for all these years because of the political sensitivities. WBTV News refers to Kerry’s trip as a “gut-wrenching” visit.
Kerry’s parting words were written in the guest book at the Hiroshima Museum. He wrote:
“Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial,” Kerry wrote in the museum’s guest book. “It is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself.”
“War must be the last resort – never the first choice,” he added. “This memorial compels us all to redouble our efforts to change the world, to find peace and build the future so yearned for by citizens everywhere.”
While the words “I am sorry” were not uttered by the Secretary of State, there was no expectation on the part of the Japanese government that this would happen. WAFF News reports, “Japanese survivors’ groups have campaigned for decades to bring leaders from the U.S. and other nuclear powers to see Hiroshima’s scars as part of a grassroots movement to abolish nuclear weapons.”
The government leaders hope that President Obama will visit Hiroshima next when he attends a Group of Seven meeting of leaders in central Japan next month. There is no official word from the president on that possibility as of yet, but an unofficial report has the president saying that he would be honored to do so.