WASHINGTON/TOKYO, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The White House said Tuesday that U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima later this month, but he won't apologize for the United States' nuclear attacks in Japan at the end of World War II.
As many observers and U.S. local media have pointed out, with the end of his last term in office approaching in January 2017, Obama hopes to cement his legacy as an advocate of nuclear disarmament by claiming the title of the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima.
Calling the visit to Hiroshima "historic," the White House said in a statement that Obama's trip will highlight his "continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also told reporters that the upcoming visit to the Japanese city of Hiroshima should not be viewed as an apology.
"If people do interpret it that way, they will be interpreting it wrongly."
Obama's visit to Hiroshima is slated for May 27.
"He (Obama) will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future," said Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security advisor.
The White House had previously said unequivocally that Obama did not believe that Japan deserved a formal government apology.
During his tenth trip to Asia from May 21 to May 28, Obama will also visit Vietnam and participate in his final G7 Summit in Ise-Shima, Japan, said the White House.
On the final day of the summit in Japan, Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park near the spot where a U.S. warplane dropped an atomic bomb 71 years ago.
JAPAN'S HIDDEN AGENDA
Political observers believe that Japan is eager to take Obama to Hiroshima -- and not because it wants an apology.
Japan says the aim of the Hiroshima visit is to call for a nuclear-free world. However, given Japan's huge stockpile of weapons-grade nuclear material and the government's recent statement that using nuclear weapons is not against its constitution, such a claim is highly dubious.
Instead, Japan is more interested in highlighting the tragedy of Hiroshima while ignoring the sufferings of countries that it brutalized before and during WWII. Japan is trying to downplay its role as an aggressor and attempting to portray itself as a victim, observers say.
"Every summer Japan holds memorial services for the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And every year the mayors of those cities make peace declarations while noting the deaths, the suffering and the need to abolish nuclear weapons. Yet I never see or hear mention of what brought about all this misery," said writer John Boyd in an article for Forbes.
Boyd called on Abe to visit Pearl Harbor and Nanjing.
"Visit the USS Arizona Memorial above the resting place of the 1,102 dead young sailors and marines and pray for their souls and the souls of the other 1,301 sailors who were also killed during your country's sneak attack on Dec. 7, 1941," he wrote.
The infamous raid ignited the Pacific War that led to an estimated 36 million deaths, and eventually resulted in the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the war.
"From Hawaii, please fly to Nanjing in China, and bow before the Nanjing Memorial Hall and pray for the thousands of people estimated killed, some of them at the very least by the Japanese Imperial Army," Boyd wrote.
Back in 1894, Japan launched a war of aggression against China. In September of that year, Emperor Meiji decided to temporarily move the command headquarters and the parliament to Hiroshima.
During World War II, Hiroshima acted as Japan's most important base for munitions factories and barracks. The Hiroshima-based Fifth Division was the main force that caused the 1937 Marco Polo (Lugou) Bridge Incident and committed atrocities in China.
Historical documents show that choosing Hiroshima as the first and foremost target was not a random decision made by the United States, but a carefully calculated one that considered Hiroshima's role and function in the aggressive war.
Given the unspeakable pain it suffered, Japan should rationally have more remorse and reflection on the war.
But the Japanese prime minister has shown no such intention or inclination. Just one day before the Nikkei financial newspaper's report on Obama's alleged visit, Abe made an offering to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class-A Japanese war criminals, convicted by an international tribunal after WWII, are enshrined and honored.
The U.S. president yearns for his political legacy to be one that paved the way toward a nuclear-free world. But he must also realize that Japan is simply using Hiroshima to whitewash its crimes instead of truly reflecting on its wartime past.