Tokyo: An association of Japanese atomic bomb survivors has criticised US President Barack Obama’s speech last month during a historic visit to Hiroshima, saying he failed to mention US responsibility for the bombing. Obama, as the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, paid moving tribute to victims in the western city, where the first ever atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945.
The bombing claimed the lives of 140,000 people, some of whom died immediately in a ball of searing heat, while others succumbed to injuries or radiation-related illnesses in the weeks, months and years afterwards.
A second nuclear bomb destroyed the city of Nagasaki in southern Japan three days later.
Obama offered no apology for the bombings, having insisted he would not revisit decisions made by then president Harry Truman at the close of the brutal war.
The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations said in a resolution adopted yesterday at its general meeting that Obama described the bombing in his speech as if it had been “a natural phenomenon”, according to Jiji Press. The phrase “death fell from the sky” that he used to evoke the horror was an expression to avoid the responsibility of the United States in having dropped the bomb, said the resolution.
Terumi Tanaka, secretary general of the group and a survivor of the Nagasaki bombing, also said Obama’s conversations with survivors during his trip were very short. “You cannot fully understand their experience by listening to them for five minutes,” he said. “We hope he can make a visit again.” Obama’s brief conversations included an unexpected embrace with a survivor in one of the visit’s most memorable moments.
According to the Asahi newspaper, Tanaka criticised the president’s visit to an accompanying museum at the memorial site as also being too short.