What did Kerry's Hiroshima visit mean?
During the G7 summit in Japan John Kerry became the first sitting US secretary of state to visit the Hiroshima nuclear bomb memorial. He laid a wreath at the site. The US nonetheless stands by its refusal to make an official apology for exploding the bomb in 1945. So what was behind the gesture?
Don't apologize for the bomb
The wreath laid by US Secretary of State Kerry was an adequate gesture, the conservative daily Lidové noviny comments:
“Perhaps President Obama will become an American Willy Brandt, who went down in history when he went down on his knees in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1979. ... On the other hand the Hiroshima bomb wasn't just a capricious American act but a reaction to Japanese fanaticism. 71 years ago Tokyo refused to surrender and prevent millions of more victims - more than the bomb claimed. Moreover, it was Japan that started the war in the first place. ... It's possible to apologise for this or that historical event, for example the way Hamburg and Dresden were bombed in WWII. But the crucial thing about the atomic bomb isn't the way it was used, but whether or not it should have been used at all. ... Yes, it was an enormous tragedy. But America need not apologize for its decision.”
Sensible initiative against nuclear arms race
John Kerry's Hiroshima visit is not an apology but marks the start of a new initiative by the US to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the conservative daily La Vanguardia points out:
“The intentions of Kerry and the G7 are commendable. … But at the same time they are pursuing specific interests. The Cold War and the mutual nuclear deterrent policies of the US and the Soviet Union are a thing of the past. Today many states have nuclear bombs. … We know that other countries are developing programmes for nuclear weapons the outcome of which is unclear. This proliferation has created a situation more dangerous than the nuclear threat posed by any single state: the deployment of nuclear weapons by terrorist groups. This is why the major powers' efforts to stop the nuclear arms race are so manifest. And more urgent with every day that passes.”