U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following a trilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., the United States, March 31, 2016. (AFP Photo)
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following a trilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., the United States, March 31, 2016. (AFP Photo)

At first glance, for a city falling as the first victim to an atomic bomb in human history, a visit by the first sitting president of the country that dropped the bomb does appear “historic.”

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following a trilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., the United States, March 31, 2016. (AFP Photo)
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following a trilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., the United States, March 31, 2016. (AFP Photo)

However, the symbolic nature of the visit is not intended to bring the two allies come closer to Obama’s nuke-free dream; politicians both in Washington and Tokyo clearly have other calculations on their mind.

For the outgoing U.S. president, the Hiroshima visit will help Obama secure yet another political legacy. He will be the first sitting president of the United States to visit the A-bombed city, after already having claimed the titles of the first African-American U.S. president, the first sitting U.S. president who won a Nobel Peace Prize after World War II (WWII) and the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years.

Besides, visiting Hiroshima — a symbol for Japan’s “war victim” identity in the eyes of many Japanese — will apparently help further strengthen the ties between Washington and Tokyo, a cornerstone for America’s “pivot to Asia” strategy.

What’s more, Hiroshima will be a bully pulpit for Obama to show his strong sense of responsibility to America’s allies as a Democratic president, earning brownie points for his pal Hillary Clinton while playing down her well-matched Republican opponent, Donald Trump.

Tokyo also has a covert agenda. Shaking off public discontent over a sluggish economy and intent on indulging its growing appetite for war-mongering, the Japanese government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is desperate to seek a political advantage to pursue its policies.

For instance, Abe has been dreaming about calling a snap parliamentary election to facilitate his efforts to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution.

Abe obviously believes that accompanying Obama to Hiroshima and standing next to him would boost his approval ratings.

Furthermore, given Hiroshima’s sensitive identity, the Japanese government is trying to use the historic visit to highlight Japan’s image of a “war victim” while downplaying its role as an aggressor in WWII.

However, no matter what wishful thinking Washington and Tokyo are engaging in, Obama’s Hiroshima visit should not be used as an occasion to whitewash Japan’s atrocities in WWII.

The death of Japanese civilians in the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack deserves global sympathy, but the tragedy was of Japan’s own making. Its then militarist government turned the city into the site of military headquarters, arsenals and camps and a vital part of its war machine that killed tens of millions in other countries.

Therefore, Hiroshima should not serve as a card to be played in a game of politics. Instead, it should serve as a grim reminder of the atrocities misled governments are capable of inflicting upon innocent people both at home and abroad and as a strong warning against nuclear warfare.

To avoid a repeat of the Hiroshima tragedy, it is advisable that Japan learn from its past mistakes and never embark on a militaristic path again.

Source: Xinhua

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