An American prisoner of war who was invited to accompany U.S. President Barack Obama on his visit to Hiroshima has had his invitation canceled, according to a POW group that set up the visit.
The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society said Wednesday that the White House canceled the visit with former U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Crowley, 94, without giving a reason.
“I think it was ludicrous to reach out to me and then not include me,” Crowley said in a statement.
Crowley fought against Japan in the Philippines during World War II and was captured and sent to Japan where he became a forced laborer. The Associated Press reported that the White House did not officially invite Crowley, citing a senior official.
Meanwhile, at least three atomic-bomb survivors will attend a ceremony Friday in Hiroshima where Obama is expected to lay flowers at the Peace Memorial Park as the first sitting U.S. president to visit the atomic-bombed city, sources said Wednesday.
During the ceremony, Obama is expected to make a short statement before an audience of around 100 people, including Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, Nagasaki Gov. Hodo Nakamura and around 20 high school and university students who acted as special envoys under a Japanese government program in pursuit of a nuclear-free world, the sources said.
Obama is unlikely to have an opportunity to listen to the testimony of the hibakusha during his visit to Hiroshima, but he may spend a short time speaking with them after making the statement, they added.
Obama is also expected to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
The sources said the Japanese and U.S. governments decided on the attendance of the mayor and governor of Nagasaki as well as hibakusha.
The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, known as Hidankyo, is selecting the hibakusha to attend. The sources said Sunao Tsuboi and Mikiso Iwasa, who co-chair Hidankyo, will join the event, as will Hidankyo secretary-general Terumi Tanaka.
Hiroshima was devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, in the final phase of World War II.
The U.S. dropped a second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki three days later.
Around 210,000 people are estimated to have died as a result of the attacks by the end of 1945. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, bringing an end to the war.