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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion -> 
From Prague to Hiroshima
    2016-05-30  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Winton Dong

    dht620@sina.com

    AT the end of a Group of Seven (G7) summit held in Japan, U.S. President Barack Obama made a tour to Hiroshima on Friday.

    A U.S. warplane dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killing thousands of people instantly and claiming about 140,000 lives by the end of that year. Another Japanese city, Nagasaki, was bombed on Aug. 9, 1945. Six days later, the emperor of Japan accepted the Potsdam Proclamation and declared unconditional surrender, so as to end World War II.

    By touring Hiroshima, Obama became the first sitting American president to do so, more than 70 years after the atomic bombings of the two Japanese cities. Why did Obama visit Hiroshima now? There are four reasons.

    Firstly, Obama wants to keep the promise he made seven years ago. On April 5, 2009, as the newly elected U.S. president, he delivered a speech in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, vowing to build a world without nuclear weapons during a meeting with EU leaders. In Prague, Obama noted: “As the only nuclear power to have used nuclear weapons, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.” Mainly because of the ambitious speech, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. As an idealist, Obama’s taking advantage of the occasion of the G7 meeting in Japan and paying a visit to Hiroshima will make him feel that he has finally earned the honor of the Nobel prize prematurely given to him.

    Secondly, President Obama’s tenure will expire on Jan. 19, 2017. So it is a kind of farewell tour for Obama in Hiroshima, where he expects to enhance his diplomatic legacy during the visit. Regarding the historic trip, the White House has said it is not willing to give an apology for the bombing. Frankly speaking, a presidential visit would be controversial in the States if it were regarded as an apology. Today the majority of Americans view the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 as a justified action to end the war and save U.S. lives.

    Thirdly, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry just paid a visit to Japan in April this year. Kerry toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum, called its displays “gut-wrenching” and said everyone should visit. Kerry’s tour paved the way for Obama’s visit. Moreover, domestic public opinion in the States now does not strongly oppose Obama’s visit to Hiroshima. Some mainstream media such as The New York Times and The Washington Post even encourage him to visit. On April 12 this year, The New York Times, in an unsigned editorial, urged President Obama to make this symbolic visit to Hiroshima and criticized him for failing to follow through on his Prague vision of building a world free of nuclear weapons.

    Fourthly, with the Asia-Pacific region increasingly important in global geopolitics, Obama’s visit to Hiroshima aims to bolster relations with its major ally in the region. Much more than that, a visit by a U.S. president will pacify depressed Japanese citizens who have been suffering from the atomic bombings for more than 70 years.

    Obama’s visit to Japan came on the heels of an embarrassing incident in Okinawa. On April 29 this year, an American solider based on the island raped and killed a 20-year-old Japanese woman. The atrocity aroused strong protest from the Japanese. During their meeting last Wednesday, Shinzo Abe himself also lodged a complaint with Obama.

    

    For President Obama, the visit is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it will leave a diplomatic legacy for him; on the other hand, advocating building a nuclear-free world may further position him as someone who cannot fulfill his promises. According to a report released by the Associated Press at the end of 2015, as the biggest nuclear power in the world, the United States plans to spend US$1 trillion to develop and upgrade its nuclear armaments in the coming 30 years.

    Meanwhile, such a visit could be played up and interpreted by the Japanese Government to emphasize its status as a sufferer rather than an aggressor in World War II.

    During a news briefing recently, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “We hope that by inviting leaders or political figures of other countries to visit Hiroshima, Japan is telling the world that it will never tread the path of militarism again, as it once brought unspeakable suffering to its people and the people of Asia.”

    (The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)

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