"In visiting Hiroshima, Obama wouldn't question the service and sacrifice of American veterans. The purpose wouldn't be to make America or Americans feel guilty about the past. Rather, he could begin putting into action his talk of a world free of nuclear weapons. Hiroshima is a stark reminder of the incomparable destruction wrought by nuclear weapons.
...Obama is ideally suited to alter the conversation on Hiroshima. He has changed America by reintroducing hope into the political and social conversation during a time of financial crisis and war.
...By paying his respects to those who died in Hiroshima, Obama can show both Japan and the rest of the world that Americans take this history seriously, that we say in one voice "never again."
The U.S. president can also help inaugurate a new era in relations between Washington and Tokyo. The new Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, stood at the United Nations last month and invited leaders to understand the need for a world free of nuclear weapons from the perspective of those who were in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Hatoyama did so not to blame Americans for this history, but rather to articulate Japan's responsibility as the only country to be devastated by such bombs: Others must never know such suffering. The new Japanese prime minister is also promising a forthright examination of Japan's role in World War II. It's time for President Obama to make this a joint endeavor.
As the president wrestles with the intricacies of Afghanistan's future, recognizing America's past history should be fairly straightforward by comparison. His visit would give him and the United States credibility to move forward in setting the tone for discussions of nuclear nonproliferation, weapons reduction, and, ultimately, their abolition. We can only focus on this future if we deal honestly with the past.
Put differently, if Mr. Obama cannot visit Hiroshima, why would the leader of any other country believe he or any American could turn words about a non-nuclear world into action?