Column: Who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima?

Sixty-five years ago, students at Kyoto University held an atomic bomb exhibition at a department store in front of Kyoto Station. In those days, Japan was under the occupation of the Allied Forces, and so they refrained from explicitly stating who dropped the atomic bombs. However, the students, who traveled the length of the country with their exhibition panels, were asked by visitors at almost every exhibition venue to say “who” dropped the bombs, information that these students dared not divulge.

Several years ago, the Chugoku Shimbun interviewed one of the students who helped stage the exhibition. He said that he was afraid of a crackdown in those days and so couldn’t point to the United States. But at a shipbuilding company in Yokohama, he finally responded to workers who had visited the exhibition site each day and asked this question.

There is now the growing possibility that Barack Obama, the president of the country that dropped the atomic bombs, will visit Hiroshima and deliver a speech in the A-bombed city. Although this is a positive development, leaving all this up to the U.S. government should be avoided.

The U.S. secretary of state, who visited Hiroshima a few weeks ago, did not bow before the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims and declined to be photographed in the Peace Memorial Museum during his tour. His attitude and actions suggest that he had not come to provide the people of Hiroshima with an apology for the A-bombing. But is this attitude acceptable as a human being? Feelings of uneasiness linger.

The president’s vision, to advance “a world without nuclear weapons,” is a sublime idea. But what does he think about the fact that the nuclear weapons made in his nation were used to attack cities in which innocent civilians lived? A-bomb survivors and Hiroshima citizens, who have waited so long to hear what he will say, will be present when he speaks.

(Originally published on April 24, 2016)