AFP is reporting that survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are demanding that President Barack Obama meet with them and personally apologize. Obama will be visiting Japan shortly for the annual Group of Seven meeting and will become the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park that was created to memorize the city’s status as the first to suffer an atomic bomb fired in anger. However, the president has already ruled out offering any kind of apology.

The idea that the United States has anything to apologize for concerning the atomic bombings would be toxic if it was seriously considered.


Americans point out that Japan started the war with the United States with the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor. More importantly, the idea that the atomic bombings were an inhuman atrocity flies in the face of history.

Taking stock of the horrendous casualties that occurred during the Battle of Okinawa, allied military planners concluded that an amphibious invasion of the Japanese home islands would have caused millions of dead and wounded on both sides. As the war ground on in the summer of 1945, Japan had every appearance of being willing to fight to the death to defend its homeland.

Indeed, rhetoric from Japanese military and political leaders at the time was apocalyptic in its tone, expressing a willingness that Japan cease to exist as a nation so long as it would not admit defeat, killing as many allied troops as possible in the process.

The use of the atomic bomb was stark in its logic. The idea was to impress on the Japanese that defeat was not only inevitable but would not be the glorious, final battle that they had envisioned.

The gambit worked. Emperor Hirohito, the only Japanese figure with the moral authority to carry it off, made a radio broadcast ordering his armed forces and people to stand down and to endure the unendurable and accept defeat after all.


Even so, a group of fanatical Japanese officers tried to abduct the Emperor and forestall the surrender. It was a near run thing.

So, instead of coming to Japan with bullets and bombs, the allied forces arrived with food and medicine. Instead of making a desert called peace, the allies, and the Japanese people created a new nation that now graces the world.