HIROSHIMA – Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak has termed the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima an “unavoidable tragedy.”
He made the remark during a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on Friday, where he also laid flowers at the cenotaph for atomic bomb victims and took in the nearby Atomic Bomb Dome.
After touring the museum, Barak said the bombing was one of many tragedies that could not have been prevented during the war, but stressed that every individual should strive to learn the lessons of Hiroshima so that a similar catastrophe is never repeated.
He declined to answer questions from reporters.
The museum includes an exhibit showing that Israel has 80 nuclear warheads, based on figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Though the country has never declared that it possesses nuclear weapons, it is widely thought to have developed a sizeable nuclear arsenal.
He is the first Israeli deputy prime minister or defense minister to make an official visit to Hiroshima, according to the city’s municipal government. The trip was arranged at Barak’s request.
Barak is visiting Japan to promote bilateral relations on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Sex slave redress urged
Japan is liable for forcing Korean women into sexual slavery during World War II and must provide redress for “crimes against humanity,” a former U.N. human rights envoy was quoted as saying by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Gay McDougall, a former special rapporteur at the U.N. Human Rights Council, also urged South Korea to consider initiating proceedings against Japan at the International Court of Justice in The Hague to resolve the victims’ long-standing grievances.