Column: President-elect Obama

by Shigeru Yamashiro, Chief Editorial Writer

In Barack Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope,” there is ample depiction of the attack on Pearl Harbor. And though he devotes some pages to the prevention of nuclear proliferation, the book includes no references to the atomic bombings. I had mixed feelings after reading it.

“The time for change has come,” Obama declared confidently before his supporters to herald his victory. The “desire for a nuclear-free world” is one element of the change he champions. Though he expresses reluctance to eliminate the U.S. nuclear arsenal unilaterally, if he abides by his own promises, an Obama presidency will nevertheless lead to a change in nuclear policy.

In two years time, we may see the new president at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. In 2010, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (APEC) will be held in Japan. If Hiroshima is chosen as the venue for this summit, Obama might make an appearance in the city.

With his inspirational speeches, Senator Obama is often compared to President Kennedy. In regard to terrorism, he supports withdrawing troops from Iraq to shore up military strength in Afghanistan. I wonder, though, if such an approach is the only option left in this fight. It was the Kennedy administration, after all, that helped drag the country into the quagmire of the Vietnam War, despite espousing peaceful diplomacy.

Obama has stated that the national interest is served by peace and equality in the world. If President Obama stands in the A-bombed city, he will surely understand the tremendous devastation a nuclear weapon can wreak. At that moment, what words will he utter? Hiroshima hopes to hear these words.

(Originally published on November 6, 2008)

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