‘Obama not to visit Hiroshima, Nagasaki during Japan trip’

Last Updated: Friday, October 29, 2010 - 14:18

Washington: US President Barack Obama will
not visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki during his trip to Japan next
month, a senior US government official said.

The disclosure came as expectations rose in Japan that
the US president, who has set out his vision of a world free
of nuclear weapons, would visit the two cities hit by US
atomic bombings in 1945.

Obama appears to be putting priority on fulfilling his
itinerary centered on the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation forum in Yokohama on Nov 13-14.

On the news, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said today,
"It is extremely regrettable since we have asked the president
to attend the meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates (in
Hiroshima on Nov. 12-14)."

But Akiba expressed hope that Obama would visit in the
future, saying the president`s latest decision does not mean
he would never do so.

"I hope I could directly ask him to come here as soon as
possible to see the realities of the devastation caused by the
atomic bombing," the mayor said in a press conference.

Both the prefectural and municipal governments of
Hiroshima sought the attendance of Obama, the winner of the
2009 Nobel Peace Prize, at the upcoming Nobel peace prize
winners` conference.

Among others in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Akihiro
Takahashi, 79, former curator of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Museum who once wrote to Obama urging him to visit Hiroshima,
said "I have been so let down, and now I would like to tell
Obama not to come."

Hideo Tsuchiyama, 85, former president of Nagasaki
University, said while he understands it would be difficult
for Obama to visit the atomic bombing sites amid strong
resistance from conservatives, "I want him to reaffirm the
ideals expressed in his Prague speech and set rules to
generate an irreversible trend to abolish nuclear arms."

He referred to Obama`s speech in Prague last year, in
which he articulated his vision of a nuke-free world.

Some officials within US government circles have viewed
that such a visit would benefit Obama`s agenda of ridding the
world of nuclear arms and prevent nuclear proliferation.

But others believe the visit would entail political risk,
as there is widespread perception among the US general public
that it would be tantamount to an apology.

Considering these factors, some officials view there
would not be much to gain for Obama spending time and effort
visiting Hiroshima or Nagasaki at this point, as he has
already declared his intention to seek a world without
nuclear weapons.

The US official also said the United States and Japan are
not likely to issue a joint declaration aimed at deepening the
bilateral alliance at the time of Obama`s visit.

The two governments had considered issuing a fresh
declaration to replace the 1996 joint security statement, as
this year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the
revised mutual security pact between Japan and the United
States.

PTI



First Published: Friday, October 29, 2010 - 14:18

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