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Obama's Ironic Visit to Hiroshima

By       Message Michael Galli       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Sixty years ago a "Class A" war criminal gave an address to congress in a bid to ensure that his peace-minded countrymen would not force the U.S. military from his homeland. 1,2 Nobusuke Kishi, a member of Hideki Tojo's cabinet and a signatory to Japan's declaration of war on America, was the top Japanese official in Japan's annexed territory of Manchuria during a time of unspeakable crimes against humanity including mass rape, enslavement, murder of children and infants, biological experiments on civilians, including vivisection, and a beheading contest celebrated by his home country's press.3.4,5,6,7 Arrested by the American occupation in 1945, he was freed three years later to be put back in power by the CIA so the U.S. could have a puppet government in Asia to check the growing fear of communism. Eight years after escaping the hangman's noose that claimed some of his Class A colleagues, secret U.S. funds helped install him as Prime Minister.8 That was 1957, the same year he addressed U.S. lawmakers in Washington. When Kishi's U.S.-sanctioned security treaty came to a vote in Japan three years later, he had the opposition forcibly removed from the voting chamber so it would pass. 9 Though the security agreement, which guaranteed large tracks of land for U.S. military bases, become law, it was so unpopular with the Japanese masses that Kishi was run out of office.

Last year, Shinzo Abe, the current prime minister of Japan, who happens to be Kishi's grandson, made his own speech to congress in a bid to shore-up support for amending Japan's U.S. written constitution that "forever renounce[s] war as a sovereign right of" the Japanese people.10, 11, 12 Although the move to allow the Japanese military to once again wage war is opposed by the majority of the Japanese population, the Obama administration has given Abe its full support. 13,14,15,16

Here lies the tragic irony of Obama's visit to Hiroshima. Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, the President lamented, "The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible," and again in Hiroshima he opined, "Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds, to cure disease and understand the cosmos, but those same discoveries can be turned into ever more efficient killing machines." 17,18 Such statements made by a president who believes that "Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice (peace prize speech)," may lead one to ask, "How was justice served by placing a Class A war criminal head of state? 19 Where can one find justice in supporting his grandson's renunciation of Japan's "peace constitution?" Where is the justice in the recent authorization of U.S. weapon's sales to Vietnam? 20 Where lurks justice in a massive assassination campaign, replete with abundant "collateral damage," via drones? 21 Where can one read justice in the recently released UN report that 65.3 million people were displaced from their homes in 2015 by conflict or persecution, an all-time high?" 22 And most frightening and contradictory of all, "What direction is justice heading in the redesigning our own nuclear stockpile into 'more efficient killing machines?'" Meet bomb B16 Model 12, the first precision guided nuclear weapon with a "dial a yield" setting which allows for the adjustment of its "explosive power." 23General James E. Cartright, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command and a retired vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former Defense Secretary William Perry have respectively stated that such weapons make their use "more thinkable" and raise "the possibilities of a 'limited nuclear war.'" 24

Standing with Shinzo Abe at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Obama proclaimed:

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[I]n the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity's core contradiction. How the very spark that marks us as a species, our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our toolmaking, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will -- those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction. How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to this truth? How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause. 25

He would know.

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1. America's Favorite War Criminal: Kishi Nobusuke and the Transformation of U.S.-Japan Relations: http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp11.html

2. Japanese protest security treaty with U.S. and unseat Prime Minister, 1959-1960: click here


4. America's Favorite War Criminal: Kishi Nobusuke and the Transformation of U.S.-Japan Relations: http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp11.html

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5. Reporting from Shanghai since the 1930s: http://www.johngittings.com/id65.html

6. Unmasking Horror -- A special report.; Japan Confronting Gruesome War Atrocity: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/17/world/unmasking-horror-a-special-report-japan-confronting-gruesome-war-atrocity.html?pagewanted=all

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Michael Galli is the Dean of Students at Rivendell Academy, a small 7-12 interstate public school on the New Hampshire / Vermont border, where he teaches classes on media and U.S. foreign policy.

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