The US has finally decided to send an envoy to a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the nuclear bombs it dropped on Japan, wiping out nearly a quarter million people.
The US Ambassador to Japan John Roos is scheduled to attend and lay a wreath “to express respect for all of the victims of World War II,” said a US State Department statement quoted by wire reports.
The development, which does not include an apology, comes 65 years after a mushroom cloud rose over Hiroshima, where an estimated 140,000 people perished instantly as the result of the blast and in the following days and weeks from burns and radiation sickness caused by the so-called ‘black rain.”
The second US nuclear bomb hit Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, killing another 80,000 civilians.
Two decades after the Cold War ended, the US and Russia still have more than 22 000 nuclear warheads between them, and France, Britain, China, India, Pakistan and Israel have a combined total of about 1 000, says the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.
For the very first time since the atomic bombings, European nuclear powers France and Britain, as well as the UN Secretary, have also decided to participate in the commemorative event this year in what is being called ‘a sign of support for nuclear disarmament.’
UN spokesperson Martin Nesirsky said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wanted to draw attention to “the urgent need to achieve global nuclear disarmament.”
The US has never apologized for the twin attacks, which most Americans, according to surveys, believe were necessary to bring a quick end to the war.
“They best thing they could do would be to apologize,” said Terumi Tanaka, who survived the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki at age 13 and is now secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Associations. “But I doubt that is going to happen.”
“We welcome the visit. But without an apology, it is difficult for us,” he said. “We aren’t asking for reparations. We simply want the U.S. to apologize and get rid of its nuclear arsenal.”