Hiroshima mayor, A-bomb survivors hope Obama will visit A-bombed cities during April 2014 visit to Japan

by Michiko Tanaka and Kenichiro Nozaki, Staff Writers

On November 21, following the decision from the U.S. and Japanese governments to arrange a presidential visit to Japan next April by President Barack Obama, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and atomic bomb survivors expressed hope that Mr. Obama would pay visits to the A-bombed cities.

Mr. Matsui released a statement which said that, by visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki and gaining a deeper understanding of the survivors’ experiences and their wish for peace, Mr. Obama would accelerate his efforts to realize a world without nuclear weapons. In November 2012, Mr. Matsui appeared at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and requested that President Obama visit Hiroshima.

Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki said, “I hope Mr. Obama will come in contact with what happened at the time of the atomic bombing and how the city has recovered, and will move to implement more concrete measures for the elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 71, secretary-general of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, chaired by Sunao Tsuboi, hopes that Caroline Kennedy, the new American ambassador to Japan, will encourage Mr. Obama to visit the A-bombed cities. “I hope Ms. Kennedy will visit Hiroshima with President Obama and strengthen the bond between Japan and the United States in order to build a peaceful world.”

At the same time, there is frustration over the contradiction between the words and the actions of the Obama administration, which has carried out subcritical and new-type nuclear tests to maintain the performance of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Kazuo Okoshi, 73, secretary-general of the other faction of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, chaired by Kazushi Kaneko, took a cool view, saying, “I don’t see a positive attitude from him toward nuclear abolition. I don’t hold out much hope that President Obama will visit Hiroshima.”

(Originally published on November 22, 2013)