TOKYO – At a time when Donald Trump’s indecency and vulgarity are distorting the world’s view of America, Barack Obama’s decision to become the first US president to visit Hiroshima demonstrates anew his own great personal dignity. Moreover, it returns to the world’s attention the outward, forward-looking America that has delivered stability and prosperity over the many decades since the atomic bomb was first used.
In coming to Hiroshima, Obama will come to know intimately the deepest pain of a nation that was once America’s enemy, but which is now a devoted friend. In examining the ruins of the nuclear abyss and recognizing our eternal sorrow, he will confirm our countries’ now-unbreakable ties. And it is because of the alliance between the US and Japan that peace in Asia and the Pacific will continue unbroken, whatever challenges may come.
Obama’s solemn trek is thus also a forward-looking moment for Japan. In the joint recognition by Japan and the United States of the horrors visited on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, both countries – the Pacific War’s victor and the vanquished – will show the world how bonds of alliance and solidarity are forged and maintained.
The emergence of a six-decade-old alliance from the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is one of the many near-miraculous achievements of America’s far-sighted post-1945 diplomacy. The US also deserves credit for promoting European unity, which has ensured lasting peace between France and Germany (after three wars in a century); encouraging China’s opening to the world, even as it was engulfed in the mayhem of the Cultural Revolution; and bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end.