May 10, 2016

Obama to visit Hiroshima — and?

Yes, it's historic that President Barack Obama will be the first U.S. President to visit Hiroshima, which he will do on a visit to Japan later this month.

That said, there's lots of unpacking to do.

He will NOT apologize for Aug. 6, 1945. Nor should he.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs saved more U.S., Allied — AND Japanese — lives than would have been lost either to an extended blockade (which would have taken months to "bite" and could have killed 1 million or more Japanese due to starvation) or a land invasion.

Besides, the "bomb" killed fewer people than our firebombing of Tokyo. And, Hirohito (remember his name) cited it, NOT the Soviet entry into the war, as the reason to call for peace. (Only a couple of months before, Hirohito himself still hoped to at least keep all of "Greater Japan" conquered up to 1905, if not the Pacific islands taken from Germany during World War I.)

So, revisionist historians like Gar Alperowitz, sit down. This is another area in which, and another reason why, I call myself a skeptical left-liberal.

Second, nuclear proliferation today is a big deal, and one that Obama's not done a lot to help, outside the Iran accord. A purely symbolic visit to Hiroshima will, like many of Obama's purely symbolic actions, be exactly that — purely symbolic. (Obamacare itself is starting to feel more that way.)

Back to the story, starting with this:
After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hiroshima last month, survivors of the bombing and other residents said that if Obama visits, they hope for progress in ridding the world of nuclear weapons, rather than an apology. 
Kerry toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum, calling the museum's haunting displays "gut-wrenching." The displays include photographs of badly burned victims, the tattered and stained clothes they wore and statues depicting them with flesh melting from their limbs.

Yes, gut-wrenching.

You know what else is gut-wrenching?

Unit 731. Japanese sex slaves. Japan's laundry list of war crimes, many of which Hirohito knew about at the time, and Doug MacArthur let him whitewash because — cuz, fear of Japanese Commies.

(Examples? Hirohito signed off on a 1937 directive that removed most protections from Chinese POWs. He knew at least the basics of the Rape of Nanking when it happened. He knew at least bits about Unit 731, having established the unit himself. He sanctioned the "Kill All, Burn All, Loot All" policy in China. And Mac's coordinated whitewashing of the crimes of Hirohito and other royals arguably helped skew ongoing lack of Japanese honesty, including refusal to admit that it violated international law, even though it used gas attacks against China and more.)

What else is gut-wrenching? Obama will go to Hiroshima with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has prayed at the Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates Japanese war criminals, in part.

Gut-wrenching is the fact that the Japanese political class, in general, still refuses to face the country's World War II history as honestly as German political elites have there.

But Obama will mention none of this.

Nor will he ask Abe why Japan has, in essence, deliberately run out the clock on compensation to victims of war crimes.

No comments: