National

Slim majority see no need for Obama to apologize for atomic bombs: Japan Times poll

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

Earlier this week The Japan Times polled its readers about U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Hiroshima. A total of 1042 people from 90 countries responded to the question: “Do you think President Obama should apologize for the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945?”

Of the three possible answers, 42 percent said “No, but he should commit to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons,” 39 percent chose “Yes,” and 19 percent replied “Absolutely not.”

The top respondents per country were the U.S. (353), then Japan (131), followed by Australia, the U.K. and Canada.

Among the nationalities, 64.9 percent of Japanese respondents thought Obama does not need to apologize but that he should commit to nuclear nonproliferation.

Among those who thought Obama should not apologize, the largest group — 28.3 percent — comprised U.S. respondents.

Survey participants were also given space to explain why they chose a particular answer.

“I think that what we want is not the president’s apologies but his real sympathy from his heart, both personal and official, complex feelings that it happened to human beings, created and done by humans, should not ever happen to humans again,” wrote Reiko Nonaka, a respondent from Japan. “I really appreciated Secretary Kerry’s brave decision to visit and his comment that (he thinks) everyone of the world should come and visit the site (the museum). It’s our negative legacy of the human race.”

On the other hand, Chek Parker from the U.S. said an apology is not needed, because the atomic bombings were necessary to prevent further damage to Japan during WWII.

“The bombings were necessary. As an example of ‘peace through superior firepower’ they saved far more lives than they took — and yes, they could have taken far more. The fact that we didn’t level major cities like Kyoto was evidence that we were being kind, even in warfare, and gave Japan every opportunity to surrender without being totally annihilated,” Parker wrote. “To apologize for our kindness would be to rob America of even more of what little dignity it has left after Obama’s presidency.”

Many of the others who chose “Absolutely not,” including a New Zealand national who identified himself as John Smith, explained that it is unnecessary for Obama to apologize, as Japan has never taken similar actions in the past.

“Japan has not apologized appropriately for the millions of heinous crimes carried out on the peoples of many countries during the second World War, and in fact still denies many crimes committed against the Chinese civilian population such as raping, beheading, medical experiments, and burying alive, of 100,000’s … many more than killed in Hiroshima or Nagasaki,” Smith said. “Had Japan not attacked other countries, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would never have happened.”

Many of those who chose “Yes” believed that the atomic bombings were unnecessary.

“Contrary to popular belief, the atomic bombs did not save ‘millions of lives,’ and, in fact, were not dropped to do so,” commented Mark Garrett from the U.S. “Japan was already on the verge of collapse and the entry of Russia and subsequent massacre of hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives on three fronts in Manchuria was the impetus for surrender to the U.S. The bombs were actually a demonstration to the Soviet Union of America’s military might in hopes of dictating terms in Europe after the war. The U.S. had already been bombing Japan ruthlessly for months. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were simply two more targets.”

El Allami Hamza from Morocco also wants an apology and praised President Obama for his bravery toward making this decision.

“No one disagree that dropping two of the most powerful weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was against humanity in general. I certainly don’t know exactly what were the motifs of taking this decision, nor the drawbacks of apologizing but, Obama as a president should consider clearing up America’s name, and apologize to let all the souls that suffered in the past rest in peace,” he wrote.

Alexandre Gilis from Belgium had a similar sentiment: “While symbolic, official apologies can have a strong emotional impact on both people and can bring closure on what are probably the most dramatic events of the Pacific theater of WWII. It can also show the United States are committed to stand against nuclear proliferation.”

The majority who favored a strong stance on nonproliferation explained that making a positive move for the future is more important than apologies.

“The actions committed by President Truman do not reflect President Obama, nor the United States today. Nuclear technology was just being developed and the governments who were involved with it and used it had no idea of the effects at the time,” wrote Thomas H from the U.S. “That does not mean it was OK to do, rather can’t count hindsight. Instead of apologizing for actions of the past (where both sides were in the wrong), President Obama should look back on the events and feel convicted to not let it happen again.”

A Hiroshima resident from the U.K. identified as Jackie wrote: “Hiroshima’s message is to move forward past the assignation of blame to a future where we make sure no one anywhere has to endure such atrocities again. If we continue to focus on which side was worse during the war, we will never have meaningful peace.”


The following is a sample of comments made by readers in response to our survey:

Readers who answered ‘Absolutely not’:

We cannot change the past. We must learn from it and look to the future. We must not let history repeat itself…
— Diane Nelson, United States


A ground invasion of Japan by the United States was estimated to have cost 30,000 U.S. lives. After the bloody battle of Iowa Jima, more American deaths would not pave the way for the American public to accept Japan as a postwar ally.
— Evan Tokatyan, United States


Both nations were in a state of war at the time the bomb was used, and it brought an end to that war without sacrificing the lives of Americans. War is hell, and the unfortunate use of it was justified. Obama should however reiterate that nuclear weapons should never be used again, promote non-proliferation policies, and reinforce the strong US-Japan alliance.
— Dave T, United States


Japan fought an unnecessarily bloody war of imperial conquest that ravaged Asia. The right in Japan is currently trying to whitewash this bloody history. An apology would be a nice gesture to victims and their families, but would serve to further the narrative Abe and his ilk are pushing. A statement along the lines of “never again” should suffice.
— Jonathan Fields, United States


Plays into Nippon Kaigi revisionist narratives. This will get twisted by Japan’s right no matter what Obama actually speaks.
Allows unfairly Japan to continue to cast itself as the primary WWII victim, when by all accounts, within Asia China was clearly the primary victim. If Obama must participate in this non-apology apology, Abe should simultaneously commence an apology tour of Asia, apologizing to the some 5.5 to 20 million civilians it killed on the continent. Too many nations currently rely on American nuclear umbrella. For better or worse, they need confidence that US will act in their defense as promised.
— CF, United States


The US doesn’t have to apologize for the bombings but should deliver that he feels sorrow for the citizens who had to die. Then, he should go on to the message that the “global community should never forget the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki”. I don’t think he has to apologize because it was all-out war that Japan started with the US. Although the US should have not killed innocent citizens, it is also true that the world is now aware that there should not be any war again as long as major powers own nukes.
— Toshinori Ohashi, Japan


Absolutely not. Saying that the U.S. regrets that the atomic bombings occurred is acceptable, but not for the past deed itself. Thoughts and actions that happened back then were a product of those times, and no amount of soul searching or debating will ever change that.
— Noll William, United States


He should not open that can of worms. Who knows where else there needs to be apologising? There will be a cascading effect. Will Goh, Singapore


By visiting Hiroshima he is promoting the continued remembrance of the only time atomic bombs have been used against people. If people learn the cost of the usage of these bombs, it will help to prevent their usage again.
— Bill Crovatt, United States


It was an act that ended the war with a cost of thousands of lives, but it was an act that saved many thousands from dying. History needs no apologies, only understanding.
— Zach, United States


That is certainly the past. I live in Hiroshima. I think he shouldn’t apologize. We Hiroshima people don’t hope he apologizes. —Kohei, Japan


Readers who answered ‘No, but he should commit to nuclear nonproliferation’:

Japan fought an unnecessarily bloody war of imperial conquest that ravaged Asia. The right in Japan is currently trying to whitewash this bloody history. An apology would be a nice gesture to victims and their families, but would serve to further the narrative Abe and his ilk are pushing. A statement along the lines of “never again” should suffice.
— Jonathan Fields, United States


His commitment to outlawing nuclear weapons is much more powerful. What has happened cannot be changed, but the future can be changed.
— Ann Harrington, United States


His attendance is the apology.
— Don Jarvi, United States


It was not his decision to drop the bomb; therefore, it is not up to him to apologize. That would have to be a decision made by the US government and the apology made by the government, not Obama, even if he is president. However, to learn from the actions of past governments and underscore his commitment to different future actions is appropriate and I commend him for doing so.
— Lynda Philippsen, Canada


Actions speak louder than words. He could say sorry then continue to enhance US nuclear arsenal. That make his words hollow and meaningless. Be contrite. Acknowledge the history, and the purpose of not repeating it.
— Wayne Malcolm, United States


I think it’s only appropriate if the Japanese government apologizes for Pearl Harbor. I believe the atomic bomb should absolutely have not been used. However, the atomic bomb would have never been dropped had the Japanese not attacked Pearl Harbor in the first place.
— Ana Maschmann, United States


Japan was a victim of atomic bombs, but other countries like America and China lost a lot of things instead of stopping Japan’s coronial attitudes, but it is too excessive to use atomic bombs, so both Obama and Abe should apologize all victims of the war and share ideas to protect peace.
— Hana Kawaminami, Japan


I think that dropping bombs is not right but most of Americans think it was right, so if he apologized for that, it means more Americans would get to think they were right contrary to that. So he should not apologize for that, but commit to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons I think.
— Takatsugu Yamashita, Japan


War is ugly. Japan committed terrible atrocities and has yet to apologize wholeheartedly, and often sports the face of the victim. They left many victims in their path during WWII. Let’s hope the horrors of WWII will not be repeated in the future. The Peace Park stands as a testament to PEACE, not war.
— Helen Barrett, Canada


That’s not what the Japanese people are looking for, or in other words what we think is that we can’t force one to apologize as apology is something that comes from one’s own deep feeling. A visit to Hiroshima itself is a gracious decision made by the leader and we appreciate that in a wholehearted way.
— Toru Tatsumi, Japan


There have already been enough apologies for the use of the atomic bombs that happened over 70 years ago in Japan. Now is a great time to move forward with global nuclear disarmament. Obama’s visit would highlight some of the many reasons our world needs less bombs and more co-operation.
— Bronwyn Davis, Australia


It would put the spotlight on Japan to apologize for actions they’ve taken over the years and it would start a never-ending chain of apologies between nations.
— Anonymous, Bosnia and Herzegowina


Horrific though the dropping of the A bombs was, whether or not greater suffering would have followed by a protracted war had the bombs not been dropped is unclear.
— Anonymous, United Kingdom


He is not a physicist. I am one, and I hope some day to pray in nagasaki cathedral for our sins. Why Nagasaki? Hiroshima could have been avoided, but Nagasaki should never have been bombed.
— Oliver, France


1) Perhaps a superficial reason, but we should not conflate the President with the political entity of the country. He is a representative of the USA but not the USA in and of himself. If there is to be an apology, it should be from the executive political organization of the USA, with the President delivering it merely as the representative thereof.

2) If there is to be an apology, it should not just be towards Japan, although it was the primary victim. There should be an apology directed towards all humanity that nuclear weapons were ever actually used.
— Melvin Charles Dy, Philippines


History happened for a reason. Japan did what they had to do. The US did what they had to do. Neither of these countries are the same today, both were equally affected by the war.
Filion Sebastien, Canada


I don’t think America need to apologize. And Japan has to stop seeking for their apology. I’m not the war generation but we all have experienced the war. The world has to move on and try to create better world by learning from the past. I think one of big purposes for Obama to visit Japan was to tell the world that the nuclear weapons should never be used in any circumstances.
— Anonymous, Japan


I think it would be anachronic to ask for an apology after all these many years. Moreover, knowing that many Americans still justify and accept the nuclear attacks to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an apology would be meaningless.
— Angelica, Colombia


We should neither regret nor dwell on the past, rather focus towards the future. By apologizing, President Obama is opening up his administration to criticism which could setback the effort for a safer future.
— Jonathan Wine, United States


I don’t wish to diminish the scale or unprecedented horror of the atomic bombings. Nor do I believe their use was entirely justified. But the American-Japanese relationship has transformed completely in the years since the war. An apology would be a meaningless gesture now. Not only that, I believe dredging this issue up runs the risk of legitimating the kind of revisionist historical narrative pushed by Japanese ultranationalists, particularly re: the renewed debate about Article 9. The best way to honor the victims of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings is to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.
H. Graph Massara, United States


The Japanese aren’t looking for an apology. Rather, they want President Obama (arguably the most powerful leader in the world) to denounce nuclear weapons and encourage other foreign leaders to do the same. It’s a bit hypocritical seeing as the US is the only country to have used “the bomb” and is one of only a handful of countries that actually has nuclear weapons. However, I think it would be an important peaceful gesture for Obama to visit Hiroshima and acknowledge the horrors of war and nuclear weapons.
— Meagan Finaly, United States


I believe the atomic bombs significance was more psychological than military. The prospect of more of these bombs being dropped had influenced Japan’s surrender. It took two bombs plus the Soviet invasion of Manchuria to force a surrender. Japan was nowhere near finished. Obama should not apologize for a decades-old action that possibly saving millions of lives. An apology could only be used to victimize Japan and distract from people from its actions in WWII. Germany doesn’t ask for an apology for Dresden; they’ve move on from WWII and I think Japan and the US should do so too.— Peter Chiu, United States


Every newly elected leader of a country should be made to visit Hiroshima. The experience will surely make them think twice before using nukes.
— Venom Bottle, United Kingdom


I think he should not apologize but explain that it was not a good decision to engage in nuclear warfare. He should urge Abe to think about restarting nuclear power plants in Japan. He should also talk about Okinawa’s base issues.
— Anonymous, Singapore


Obama should show remorse for the lives lost, but the U.S. doesn’t owe an apology. Japan is not asking for an apology. A POTUS apology will not influence the more right-wing politicians in Japan to be more apologetic with its neighbors ( if this is the rationale). It would be a noble, but naive, foreign policy. The LDP’s historical revisionism is driven by domestic political considerations, not international ones (especially not America’s apology for Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Okinawa, Kobe, etc.). If Washington thinks base issues in Henoko are tense now, apologize and further alliance maintenance issues will surface.
— Zach Elkin, United States


My Japanese coworker mentioned that if he did apologize, it might become political leverage for Japan to apologize to China and the Philippines (to which he was opposed). For most Japanese people, it is water under the bridge. Revisiting it all in the form of an apology might increase tensions.
Ryan Nagle, United States


First and foremost, an apology would come as a grave insult to the millions throughout Asia who contributed to disrupting Japanese imperialist aims and extensively suffered IJA atrocities, especially at a time when the current Japanese administration is aggressively denying and whitewashing past wrongdoings both at home and on an international scale. Second, Obama’s visit alone will further reinforce the notion among many Japanese citizens of Japan as a hapless and well-meaning victim, and not an aggressor. Unfortunately, the nuclear attacks and the Hiroshima Peace Museum have come to form the core of this now prevalent victim not aggressor mindset.
— Anonymous, United States


I think every country which took part in WW2 could apologize to at least one other country. Everybody made mistakes, in Europe as well as in Asia. Using the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki was utterly wrong and unjustified of course. But do not forget that Japan perpetrated atrocities in the pacific area and on the Asian continent. Nobody is proud of WW2, but since the end of the war, Japan and the USA became allies. They help each other and I think that is the point we should keep in mind instead of dwelling on the past.
— Eric Chabry, France


I don’t think apologies are necessary, there was fault on all sides. I’m glad President Obama will visit Hiroshima. I think all world leaders should do this whether in an official capacity of not. I visited the A-bomb dome and museum two years ago — my English daughter lives in Tokyo. There is a feeling of great sadness but also one of great hope for world peace, and it is my wish that world leaders visit and feel this, too, to know how their actions can affect humanity.
— Angela Scott, United Kingdom


Apologizing would suggest that Japan was the victim, whereas Japan was the first perpetrator and wreaked havoc throughout East Asia in the decades leading up to the atomic bomb. Let us not forget the millions of lives lost during Japan’s 20th century colonial agenda. Apologizing would also be a slap in the face to the people who died in the unsolicited Pearl Harbor attack. Japan went through phase when its top brass as well as its populace at large became imbued with an insatiable militaristic spirit. The A-bombs were the only way to put a limit to their imperialist folly.
— Daniele Pestilli, Italy


Apology is an action not mere words. What’s more important is what he does towards nuclear abolition. To me, that’s a sincere apology. His visit to Hiroshima is an extension of his responsibility that he feels as a US citizen, and as a human being. And, I feel whether he explicitly says sorry or not, he will still do what he needs to do for nuclear abolition. On a separate note, would or has Japan apologized to South Korea and China? It’s not important, right!! What’s important is that mistakes are not repeated.
— Swati Raj, India


I think that it isn’t useful to apologize. Saying I’m sorry at this point would just be empty words for actions not belonging to him. However, I think it’s very important that he acknowledges the fact that it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. It’s more important that he shows through his actions that he does not support the tragedy of using atom bombs. Furthermore, Japan would benefit from trying to avoid a victim role and act as a forerunner in international debate and progress.
— Simon Struyf, Belgium


I was born and raised in Nagasaki. Since he did a speech in Prague, we have desired that he visit Hiroshima. Apologizing will make new problems. It is bad to make world (with nuclear weapons). Both of America and Japan have to compromise each other. When one of the survivors from that day went to America, students wanted to apologize, but he said, “I don’t need your apology, instead, you must think and act to make nuclear-free (world).” When America and Japan get over the past, they will make change international opinion to (end nuclear) weapons. We must focus on the future.
— Rikako Oda, Japan


In war everybody loses. It’s better to embrace future peaceful cooperation than to hark back to the past. Express regret, emphasize atrocities were committed on both sides, but focus on the future!
— Warren Pohl, Australia


I believe that actions speak louder than words, that is to say that I feel that working towards a better world, improving international relations and developing bonds is more important. If Obama simply verbally apologized, I don’t feel it would make a difference in the long run. What I do believe would make a difference is demonstrating a strong bond and relationship through actions. What happened during the war was horrible and forced humanity to evaluate themselves more deeply. Allow the US to demonstrate the “apology” through future compatibility and hope. Not through words alone.
— Robert Muldoon, United Kingdom


Both the United States and Japan committed atrocities during WWII – both against soldiers and civilians. Making one nation the victim and the other the perpetrator over half-a-century after the facts is not and will never be what remembering the victims of an atrocity should be about.
— Jelle de Vries, Netherlands


I think he should go for as a memorial/remembrance of the victims. We should learn from history so that such weapons aren’t use anymore. This feels more political.
— Yaya Nino, Mexico


He didn’t do it. Nor does he represent the American generation who was involved in the bombing. No one knows why it happened. Two stories on two continents.
— Sound of Asia, Japan


Unless there’s an indication of its need, I don’t think apologizing would be appropriate for what he’s going to do there. He’s going to show the good will between the two nations. Instead, as indicated by the first question, he should use this chance to commit to a policy where our nation would not allow this sort of thing to happen again.
— Shandi Leaton, United States


First, Barack Obama hadn’t even born when the bombs exploded. I think he is free of responsibility. Nevertheless, it must alert and arouse the catastrophe to the rest of the world. As I see it, with only his presence, he is doing a lot. Only in a case where he warns about the wars in general and in name of the American people, I would understand his apology.
— Emma Mira, Spain


Only A-bomb victims have the right to comment, I think. What was the purpose of his decision to visit? There must be agreement already between the two governments when they decided to do this. Anyway, I hope this will bring more leaders of nations to come and see what happened, and get a stronger feeling of abolishing nuclear weapons.
— Anonymous, Japan


Obama wasn’t even alive during WWII and it’s a part of history that both sides have already dealt with. There’s no need to complicate the issue. America and Japan should focus on reducing the world’s supply of nuclear weapons and continue to maintain close relations with one another.
— Oliver Jia, United States


President Obama is not responsible for dropping the bombs, just as today’s Japanese are not responsible for the war crimes that past generations committed.
— Faye M, United States


We need to learn to move on. I don’t want Japan to be like China or Korea. Though I must say my country’s government has not fully recognized its great responsibilities and heinous crimes it committed in those countries and to their innocent people. War is a crime and any government who takes an active role is criminal. Not one is worse than the other. All are equally criminal. Once we start accepting responsibilities, it’s time to move on.
— Mina D, Japan


I don’t think most of the Japanese including me require the U.S. president to apologize for atomic bombing as over 70 years have passed. However, I would like him to bow in symbolic spots. The important thing is an active president takes time to be there and know what U.S. has did in WWⅡ. We Japanese have the same responsibility to know what we did in other country. Hope this visit goes well.
— Shuto Akino, Japan


Future is more important than the past. In any case, an apology at this time would be from Mr. Obama personally, not from the American people as a whole. There may come a time in another 50-100 years where an apology can be sincerely tendered for what was an unneeded horror inflicted on civilian populations.
— Edo Naito, Japan


Denuclearization is the ultimate goal so shedding light on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a major step. No country should ever experience such an atrocious piece of weaponry. I applaud Ambassadors Roos and Kennedy, Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama for their maturity and courage for setting the diplomatic example. Also, I applaud Prime Minister Abe for his relentless persistence and political savviness to (attempt to) bring closure to the horrors of war. At this point, Japan is not looking for an apology; it is seeking global awareness to never repeat such acts.
— Moto Tomita, United States


The US won the A-bomb development competition ousting USSR, Germany, Japan, etc., and dropped it first. Japan or any county could have used it once it was available then. However, dropping the second one over Nagasaki was not necessary and for that the US government owes apology to the Japanese people.
— Tamio Uchida, Japan


Because Japan’s actions were the cause of the Pacific War in the first place. Even though the bombs took thousands of lives, I’m pretty confident to say that Japan would have kept screwing up if there wasn’t something that stopped them from further damage.
— Wataru Nakagawa, Japan


Why do you focus on an apology? It was war. People killed people each other. He should not apologize. I’m a child of atomic bomb survivor in Hiroshima. Survivors left the inscription “Sleep peacefully. We will never repeat that sin again” on the stone monument. They don’t blame anyone.
— Yukiko Isagawa, Japan


While the jury is still out on whether or not Imperial Japan would have surrendered if A-Bombs had not been dropped, these terrible weapons undoubtedly shortened the war. It needs to be remembered, too, that Japan had been involved in aggressive wars since 1931 and outright war with China since 1937. I have been to Hiroshima and was deeply moved by the experience. It is right for all of us to reflect upon these events and learn from them. These weapons need to eliminated from the arsenals of all nations possessing them. This is an urgent matter.
— David Stephen, Australia


Readers who answered ‘Yes, he should apologize’:

Japan fought an unnecessarily bloody war of imperial conquest that ravaged Asia. The right in Japan is currently trying to whitewash this bloody history. An apology would be a nice gesture to victims and their families, but would serve to further the narrative Abe and his ilk are pushing. A statement along the lines of “never again” should suffice.
— Jonathan Fields, United States


Nuclear weapons threaten the very existence of our planet and all life on it. If Barack Obama should offer a heartfelt apology to the civilian victims who died as a result of the A-bomb blast on August 6th, 1945, it would make the threat of future atomic war that much better understood. There’s no such think as a “good war”, yet many Americans like to believe that WWII was their last “good war”. Some world leaders talk about nuclear war as a “strategy”. What madness. For the sake of the future of mankind and all life, Obama should apologize. Thanks.
— Robert McKinney, United States


In those days, the Pacific war was almost complete as Japan would have probably surrendered, with or without the atomic bomb, in the following days or weeks. So many innocent people and civilians were killed in this tragedy. The atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki were probably used for estimating the annihilation power of this new weapon (the Nagasaki bomb type differed from Hiroshima one…) and preparing the coming cold war against USSR that was in route.
— Denis Riviere, France


The atomic bombs were too powerful and cruel to end WWII, and it was surely a genocide of civilians. The U.S. government could choose “a demonstration in an appropriately selected uninhabited area” as Frank Report said, but they didn’t. That’s why I think the president should apologize.
— Mai Sugimoto, Japan


Obama should apologize for the human suffering the bombings caused, but most of all to set a good example for Japan and others to apologize and acknowledge the inhumane things they did in past wars. This will encourage Japan to be more open in acknowledging its responsibility for the so-call comfort women used by Japan’s wartime army, the Nanjing massacre, and other horrific human rights violations. Obama’s apology will refute the claim of Japanese rightists that only Japan is apologizing for its past inhumane deeds.
— Paul Midford, United States


Joint apology – Yes.
— Dimitri Moore, United States


In a technicality, he inherits the burden that lays upon his shoulders as president. What happened in the past MAY be in the past, but it still was an event that never had a proper apology. If the president apologizes for the past atrocity, it might lift some tension off of some of the older population who antagonized America for committing such an act. I believe that with the apology, current bonds will be strengthened, and more opportunities for American-Japanese relations will rise significantly.
— Jackson Clemens, United States


Although apologies are often lip service, if Obama is truly committed to a nuclear-free world, admitting that it was wrong to use nuclear weapons in the first place could have value in cementing this commitment through a formal apology. An apology cannot undo the past but it could give hope to remaining victims that this powerful world leader, through deep reflection and new understanding, regrets the act of bombing and will work to make sure it never happens again. An apology won’t end American aggression, but it could have an emotional impact, with is nonetheless valuable.
— Indu Iyer, Canada


We need to apologize for pain we have caused. Be it deliberate or inadvertent. Obama is doing great things – another great thing would be apologizing. You can only apologize for the first time once.
When viewing the issue from a global perspective, we see that Japan (and Germany) apologize every year for what happened. By returning the apology and accepting aggression and violence came from both sides we can all move to peace.
— Mikey Mac, Australia


I want him to sincerely say sorry to the victims.
— Takanori Yamada, Japan


The atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were immoral acts that killed innocent civilians an were also an experiment on humans. To say that it was necessary for ending the war, does not justify such an immoral act. The US must apologize.
— N H, United States


The bombing of predominantly non-military targets is a war crime.
— Eric G., Canada


The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were the worst and only kind of mass destruction by atomic bombs. The USA killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians! In my view, only apologizing is not enough. The USA should should change their constitution and prohibit any use of WMD. They should destroy all their nuclear arsenals. Unless the USA take those steps, verbal apology means little.
— Tanzir Ahmed, Bangladesh


The bombing of Japan remains the penultimate atrocity committed by any nation during war upon a civilian population. Germany did not wait 60 years to admit the atrocities of WWII, nor should the United States. “Justification” is not sufficient, it’s widely accepted Japan was on point of surrender when the bombs were dropped. It is past time the US apologized for the atrocity of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
— C Field, Australia


The unforeseen consequences of the nuclear strike should be apologized for. Nuclear fallout has had a negative influence on society, and has damaged our Japanese-American relations. There is no reason to continue to have the United States be a better partner to Japan. I also think that we should remove our military forces and support Japan’s production of their own defense forces. That said, I think the United States should continue to support Japan’s sovereignty as a military ally should.
— Douglas Pocock, United States


Yes, President Obama should apologize as receiving the Nobel Peace Prize comes with certain responsibilities, not least to do one’s best to to work toward a harmonious future. Unfortunately Obama is at the mercy of politics and thus won’t apologize at the behest of the Democratic Party for fear of losing the centralists and right in the upcoming election.
— Mike W, Canada


Apologizing would send out a message of peace at a time when many around the world resent the perceived aggression of US foreign policy. It will also, to some extent, give the US the moral high ground in any future disputes. Most importantly it is morally the right thing to do, and the fact that Japan also committed atrocities is irrelevant. It only deflects from the fact that the US is the only country ever to have used nukes. The US needs to “be the bigger man” here, and own up to what many today consider a war crime.
— Liam Carrigan, United Kingdom


It is safe to assume that everyone is aware of the suffering many Japanese have been through since the bomb. Many claim that since the Japanese also committed atrocities during the war, that the U.S. shouldn’t be the first to apologize. I believe that on the contrary the U.S. MUST be the first one to at least recognize what has happened.
— Keith Lawton, United States


By the end of the war America committed a crime against a humanity, but as it was on the winning side, it faced no repercussions. Yet the moral duty to recognize one’s crimes and apologize for them remains. If America aspires to something better, if it wants to play a role of the keeper of peace in the world, it should start by acknowledging and apologizing for its own crimes.
— Sergey, Russia


The atomic bombs were dropped for multiple reasons, some of which I consider to be unjust and regrettable. While apologists may argue that the atomic bombs were necessary to end the war, this was not the only deciding factor. A second but equally important factor was the desire by the US government to flex its muscles on the international stage. Furthermore, racist attitudes towards the Japanese people helped US officials justify the attacks.
— Zen S, United States


The target were civilians, that’s why. Japan has a great part of deserted areas, to bomb a mountain should have been the first warning. But Japan should apologize to their people too, knowing they couldn’t win and that the enemy had such a power, it was a foolish decision to pursue the war after the first bomb.
— François Gueguen, France


The USA is the first (hopefully also the last) and only nation to use atomic bomb on mankind whatever the reasons it gives. To show the world it made a mistake, President Obama should apologize for it. Otherwise, next time if a nuclear nation is stretched too much in a war, it may use an atomic bomb and say, “We used it because it ended war early and saved many lives.” A nation may become great because of its power but acknowledging its mistakes makes it greater.
— Anonymous, Japan


This is war crime absolutely, so the president should apologize, but the president won’t apologize in Hiroshima. I don’t know why and for what he goes to Hiroshima. Maybe he got the Nobel prize, and he just wants to get a honor… I cannot agree with him going to Hiroshima if he doesn’t apologize.
— Tomo Ike, Japan


Back then no one ever thought about or stood up for the innocent civilians that the US murdered. Even now some people think Japan got what they deserved, still not caring for all those innocent people, the ones that died and the ones that survived. Now, if an innocent civilian is killed, you’d think the world was coming to an end. The US has NEVER apologized for their actions (unless they were apologizing to the enemy). The truth about WWII needs to be told and people need to listen and the US needs to apologize.
— Brea, United States


Times and politics of this world have changed and moved on. Japan and the USA are firm trading partners. Have diplomatic ties and share military hardware etc. Now is a perfect time to honor the fighting spirits of Japan, who gave their all for what they believed to be right and just back then. The simple fact that this man is the very first President of the USA to even want to make the visit to Hiroshima speaks volumes for this momentous occasion. And to heal a tear in history.
— Gary Croft, Australia


Yes, because it was the single worst war crime in history, and moreover it was completely unnecessary and avoidable. The war was essentially over by then, and the US only used the bombs to test their effect on humans and to threaten the Soviet Union. 200,000 civilians were slaughtered to make a political point. The US needs to apologize for its crimes against the Japanese people, and to prove it’s sincere by withdrawing all US troops from Japan and ending its 70-plus-year informal occupation, as well as ending its similar aggressive acts against the rest of the world.
— Stephen Thomas, United States


Whether it was necessary or not surely is up for debate, it was still a tragedy as it attacked civilians and left a gruesome reminder/scar on the nation. Showing humility would surely continue to strengthen the ties between the two nations and ease potential tensions.
— Hassan Bokhari, United States


He is a world leader. He should set an example for the rest of the world regarding the use of nuclear weapons. We can’t uninvent nuclear weapons. But we can make it clear that using them is not something humans should do to each other.
— Anonymous, United States


It has been well noted by various critics and people at the time of WW2 that dropping those bombs was mostly a flex of muscle as Japan was looking for a way out of the war without losing face/being humiliated. Although it has brought about a peaceful country, it has come at a great cost and I think it could have been brought about without such ferocity. Especially on TWO cities?
— Rhys Coleman, Australia


The US knew Japan was trying to surrender since January 1945. The bombs were meant to scare the Soviet Union from enlarging their sphere of influence in Asia and Europe rather than defeat Japan which was already badly defeated. The two bombs used different technologies and was an in humane test to compare the results. The targets were civilians not military and therefore war crimes.
— Anonymous, United States


The apology would be appropriate because collective punishment is wrong. The people who died in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not empowered to determine the actions of the Japanese leadership. Most of the people who died were simply people living their lives as best they could. Beyond that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the leadership of Japan would have surrendered without the bombing. While few who are responsible for the atrocities committed by all sides in those dark days are still alive, it is always appropriate to condemn the killing innocent civilians.
— Chris Larsen, United States


He should apologize because it was men like him in power who played god with the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians with the simple push of a button. He still has the same power as Franklin D. Roosevelt, even more so, he has a bigger, more destructive arsenal now at his fingertips…but that’s just my honest, subjective opinion…
— Chris vyn Lesk, Romania


In total war, there are no true victors. Obama should apologize not only for the atomic bombs, but the fire-bombing of Tokyo and other acts that qualify as “crimes against peace,” which is what Japanese war criminals at the Tokyo Tribunals were charged with. Until the “victors” of past wars apologize along with the “defeated,” the repetitive cycle of modern wars will only continue.
— Michael Sinatra, United States


If the US should work for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, it is natural to apologize for the nuclear disaster which the U.S. caused themselves.
— LL, Norway


I live in Hiroshima Prefecture and it always saddens me to think of all of the innocent lives lost in such a brutal manner. Historical revisionism suggests there were alternatives to the decision – especially the one dropped on Nagasaki.
— Matthew Anderson, Australia


Dropping atomic bombs on civilian populations were war crimes. The reasons given, like saving lives, were fiction. Maintaining this was a correct and just action is like validating the use of nuclear weapons for future generations. That is unacceptable. A clear message should be sent that nuclear weapons should never be used. In fact, they must be abolished.
— John Spiri, United States


Historically speaking, it is evident that the US didn’t need its use of the A-bomb to make Japan surrender. Some historians have showed us that it was a kind of inhumane experiment to learn what could happen after the affect of radiation and destructive power. Japan would have been defeated without the US’s nuclear weapon. In this sense, America committed the same error as Nazi Germany did to the Jewish people.
— Yoichi Kagiyama, Japan


The use of atomic weaponry, especially on a largely civilian population, is an unforgivable atrocity. President Obama should use this opportunity to acknowledge that this was a line that should have never been crossed. Additionally, he should push the platform of nonproliferation and disarmament. Moreover, he should encourage the Prime Minister to apologize for Japan’s own atrocities during WWII — especially to the Koreans, Chinese, Burmese, Filipinos, and other Southeast Asian nations.
— Johnny Jumpup, United States


Dropping the bombs were war crimes for which the United States will almost certainly never be tried. The least the United States can do is apologize, even if it is almost too little too late. Japan and other countries which have committed war crimes have apologized and faced trial, but the United States, which claims to be an example to the rest of the world, has never done so.
— Anonymous, United States


Just because the United States emerged as the winner, it doesn’t mean that they are generally free of any guilt. These bombings occurred at a time when Japan was almost beaten without hope of any success. Thus, the two atomic bombs were only a show of strength and are morally reprehensible. Now, if countries such as Korea and China call Japan for an admission of guilt, an apology and payment of compensation, the victims and survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima also have the right to ask the United States for apologizes and to pay compensation.
— Jens Dickau, Germany


I think it’s time.
— Anonymous, Australia.