Nuclear weapons can be eliminated: Chance to reject nuclear war

by Noritaka Egusa, Editor/Senior Staff Writer

If U.S. President Barack Obama, who has promised to strive for the abolition of nuclear weapons, visits the A-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this would have great significance for both the U.S. and Japan, the A-bombed nation. We sincerely hope that Hiroshima and Nagasaki will work in concert with the Japanese government and all three will do their utmost to realize such a visit.

On April 5, Mr. Obama delivered a speech in Prague, the Czech Republic, declaring “as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act” and vowing that “the United States will take concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons.” A visit by the president to Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be a major step toward fulfilling this responsibility.

The U.S. has justified its action to date, saying that it dropped the bombs to bring a swift end to World War II. By visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the current president of that nation would learn firsthand of the human tragedy which unfolded right under the mushroom cloud. As the supreme commander of the U.S., with the authority to order a nuclear attack, the president would also be able to listen directly to the voices of A-bomb survivors (hibakusha).

Hibakusha, who have suffered from the aftereffects of radiation from the atomic bombings, and families, who have lost loved ones due to the bombings, might naturally have mixed feelings. It isn’t easy for them to let go of their bitterness.

However, the reality of international politics is such that nuclear disarmament will not move forward unless the nuclear weapon states willingly reduce their nuclear arsenals. There is also the lamentable fact that the frustration felt by the non-nuclear weapon states will never be relieved as long as the nuclear monopoly held by the major nuclear powers continues, a situation that has spawned the cycle of nuclear proliferation. Even Mr. Obama, in his speech in Prague, stood fast to the idea of nuclear deterrence.

In this context, a visit by the current U.S. president to Hiroshima and Nagasaki could be an opportunity to press the U.S. to abandon its policy of nuclear deterrence based on the power of nuclear weapons and, instead, adopt the idea of “human deterrence,” which is predicated on the pain of the victims of nuclear war and categorically rejects nuclear war. This idea must be the driving force behind nuclear abolition, for which the A-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have appealed for so many years.

However, Japan, as a nation, continues to contradict itself. While it advocates nuclear abolition, it remains protected under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Thus, there are important implications in the fact that former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a visit to the U.S., called for Mr. Obama to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki and concurred with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in regard to the two nations joining forces to eliminate nuclear weapons. Mr. Obama’s visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be the first step toward strengthening U.S.-Japan relations in a new era. We hope that the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will work in cooperation with the Japanese government and earnestly seek to realize the president’s visit to the two A-bombed cities.

(Originally published on April 17, 2009)

Related articles
Abe, Biden see need for cooperation for nuclear disarmament (April 17, 2009)
Obama lays out vision for nuclear-free world (April 7, 2009)