John Roos will be the first U.S. ambassador to Japan to attend the annual commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima, which killed 140,000 Japanese but helped end World War II and prevented an American land invasion that could have cost the lives of an estimated 500,000 U.S. soldiers and sailors.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley this week announced that Mr. Roos will represent the United States at the Aug. 6 ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial on the 65th anniversary of the first use of an atomic weapon. He said Mr. Roos will attend the event to “express respect for all of the victims of World War II.”
“We thought it was the right thing to do,” he added.
Since 1998, the Hiroshima city government has invited U.S. presidents or American ambassadors to attend the annual commemoration.
“This is the first time a government representative of the U.S., a nuclear power, attends the ceremony, and the Japanese government welcomes this,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said at a press conference in Tokyo.
“The event will become an opportunity for major nations’ officials to deepen their understanding of our desire for nuclear disarmament and resolve never to allow the misery of A-bomb attacks to be repeated.”
Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush did not accept invitations to the event, leading some political observers to conclude that U.S. presidents wanted to avoid the appearance of apologizing for the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.
Japanese hoped that President Obama would be different; however, he declined to visit Hiroshima on his first visit to Japan last year.
This year’s commemoration also will mark a first for the United Nations, which is sending Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Altogether, officials from 67 nations will attend the event.
President Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and on Nagasaki three days later, after Japan refused demands for an unconditional surrender. His advisers told him a land invasion of Japan could cost 1 million Allied lives, including those of 500,000 Americans.
In his diaries, Truman justified the bombing of Japan because of its sneak attack on the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, which killed 2,400 Americans and wounded 1,175.
“If they do not accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the likes of which has never been seen on this earth,” he wrote.
Members of a congressional human rights panel have introduced a resolution to support Kyrgyzstan’s interim government and call for free elections for a new parliament after years of instability in the Central Asian nation, which serves as a key U.S. supply depot for troops in Afghanistan.
“Last month’s election helped legitimize the caretaker government in Kyrgyzstan, but now the government must perform on larger challenges,” Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, told the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) during a hearing this week on the country’s political situation.
Mr. Pitts - along with Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, and the commission’s co-chairman, Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat - sponsored the resolution.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Mr. Hastings expressed doubts on whether ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks can overcome “simmering ethnic tensions” that killed hundreds and displaced thousands of people in early June. By the end of that month, voters had peacefully elected an interim government, which has scheduled elections for October.
The CSCE is the U.S. component to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which represents 54 nations in Europe, Central Asia and North America.
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