U.S. ambassador to Japan to attend Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6

by Sakiko Masuda and Junichiro Hayashi, Staff Writers

On July 28, it was learned that final preparations are now being made for John Roos, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony organized by the City of Hiroshima on August 6, marking the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing. Ambassador Roos will attend the ceremony as the first government official from the United States, the nation which dropped the atomic bomb. His attendance is considered a move in response to the policy of U.S. President Barack Obama, who has advocated "a world without nuclear weapons."

According to U.S. sources and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Ambassador Roos will attend the ceremony as a representative of the U.S. government. An offering of flowers by Mr. Roos at the Cenotaph for A-bomb Victims is reportedly being considered. The City of Hiroshima sent invitations to the ceremony to the 149 nations, including nuclear weapon states, which have ambassadors posted in Japan. According to the city, it has not yet received an official response of attendance from the United States.

Ambassador Roos visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum last October and commented: "A visit to Hiroshima is a powerful reminder of the destructiveness of nuclear weapons, and underscores the importance of working together to seek the peace and security of a world without them."

In addition to the United States, the United Kingdom and France, also nuclear weapon states, have indicated their intention to attend the ceremony for the first time. The United Kingdom is reportedly arranging for a minister-level representative to attend the ceremony. As of this August 6, Russia will have attended the ceremony 11 times in a row. China has already informed the city of its absence at this year's ceremony.

(Originally published on July 29, 2010)

Reactions from the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations

Yasuko Ikeda, 77, vice chairperson of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (chaired by Sunao Tsuboi)
The United States, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, seems to be thinking more openly about the issue now. August 6 is a special day. I hope Ambassador Roos will understand the enormous impact the atomic bombing has had on the people of Hiroshima when he sees the tears being shed for the A-bomb victims. I also think the United States should apologize and express remorse. I want the United States to make August 6 a day in which it vows anew to seek the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Kazushi Kaneko, 84, chairman of the other faction of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations
In all honesty, I would like President Obama to attend the ceremony. As for Ambassador Roos, I would like him to truly grasp the real consequences of the bombing and apologize to the A-bomb victims, admitting that the United States effected a crime against humanity. I hope the way of thinking which believes the atomic bombing was right, an idea still deeply rooted in the United States, will change among the American citizens and that bold action toward nuclear abolition will follow.  

(Originally published on July 29, 2010)

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U.S. Ambassador John Roos visits Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Oct. 5, 2009)
Hiroshima Memo: Reciprocal visits to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor by U.S. and Japan leaders should promote the abolition of nuclear weapons and mutual reconciliation (Nov. 2, 2009)