Hiroshima Survivors Decry Link to Pearl Harbor

A U.S.-Japan “sister peace park” agreement angers representatives of the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Japan, who want Washington to admit the “A-bomb did not end the war and save the lives of American soldiers.”  

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and Hiroshima Mayor Matsui signed sister parks agreement between Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Pearl Harbor National Memorial on June 29. (U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Twitter)

By Julia Conley
Common Dreams

Representatives of hibakusha — the Japanese community of survivors of the United States’ bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 — have denounced an agreement between the U.S. and Japan that equates the indiscriminate killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians with a World War II attack on a key U.S. naval base.

The Biden administration last month signed an agreement with Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui establishing a “sister-park” relationship between the Japanese city’s Peace Memorial Park and the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. 

At a signing ceremony at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel appeared to equate the events that the two parks memorialize.

“Nobody can go to Pearl Harbor, and nobody can go to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and enter the front door, walk out the exit door and be the same person,” Emanuel said.

Japan’s surprise attack on Naval Station Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941 killed roughly 2,300 U.S. military personnel.

The Truman administration’s decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945 immediately killed roughly 80,000 civilians, and a second bombing of Nagasaki killed about 70,000. Another 140,000 people died by the end of that year from the effects of the bombing. 

The city of Hiroshima estimated that a total of 237,000 people were killed from radiation poisoning, cancer, and injuries in the five years after the attack. 

Atsuko Yamamoto, a Japanese educator in Osaka, said the two attacks were “completely different” considering the scale and targets.

Several survivors wrote to Matsui ahead of the ceremony to question the purpose of the sister-park agreement, arguing that the two attacks “are historic lessons to learn from and to never repeat” but not “something that we should forgive each other for.”

“The historical backgrounds of the two parks will forever be different,” Haruko Moritaki, an A-bomb survivor and peace activist who advises the Hiroshima Association for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, told the Chugoku Shimbun newspaper.

In response to the pushback, Emanuel said people in Japan should not be “trapped” by the emotions of “anguish and angst” associated with the devastating bombings that took place nearly 80 years ago, and that the agreement between the U.S. and Japan “is the example of what I think this world desperately needs right now.”  

[Related: Rahm Emanuel Under Consideration as Top Ambassador]

Kunihiko Sakuma, who chairs the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organization, said reconciliation cannot truly be reached between the two countries until the U.S. acknowledges that “The A-bomb did not end the war and save the lives of American soldiers as the U.S. side likes to say.”

“It was clear that Japan was going to lose,” he told Nikkei Asia, saying the attack was unnecessary and meant as a display of U.S. military power.

“Unless that fundamental issue is addressed, we cannot just focus on the future,” said Sakuma.

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

33 comments for “Hiroshima Survivors Decry Link to Pearl Harbor

  1. CaseyG
    July 9, 2023 at 12:21

    Hi Adam Gorelick:

    I read the book HIROSHIMA in history class in high school. I think that’s when I realized how horrible America could be. And that there was no reason for Truman to do what he did. RUSSIA was supposed to come in and finish off Japan—-but that “Give em hell, Harry “—president was so inhumane. The US government
    would also go along with America throwing Japanese Americans out of their homes and property and putting them in awful camps. These were CITIZENS of America too.

    The military wanted to bomb Kyoto originally —-but one American military man said no, as he realized that this city of Kyoto was a necessary part of Japan’s history—and Kyoto escaped being obliterated. Oppenheimer was famous for quoting that ancient Book from India, the Bagavadita, by using the words—“Now I am made death…” And where ever America has a war, all I can think of are those same words..” Now I am made death,” and yes America did bring a new kind of death to the world—–and though nations know the results of these bombs—they are still in existence. : (

    .Some of the descriptions in that HIROSHIMA book were horrific. Eye balls melting, humans burning to death, a dark shadow of a human being burnt into a concrete wall. The few who survived were working deep in a bank vault and had no sad burn repercussions. But so many roasted humans alive—Oh America, you and your military are so often murders—–and it just does not seem to stop.

  2. Humwawa
    July 9, 2023 at 08:59

    The bombings were necessary to establish the US as the sole superpower and not to end the war. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were selected to test the nuclear bombs on the civilian population (80% of the victim were children, women an old people) since most other cities had already been destroyed, which would have made it difficult to measure the effect of the new bombs. Two cities were bombed because two different bombs had to be tested: an uranium bomb (Little Boy on Hiroshima) and an a plutonium bomb (Fat Man on Nagasaki). After the war, teams of American doctors visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki regularly to measure the effect in humans, without treating a single victim (Dr. Mengele would have been proud of them).

  3. Bostonian
    July 8, 2023 at 15:37

    Americans tend to forget that the air campaign against Japan did not end with the two atomic bombings. It continued when surrender negotiations were not moving quickly enough to suit the US. Final air attacks on Tokyo in 1945 were by a fleet of 60 B-29s on Aug. 8, and by 70 B-29s on Aug. 10. On Aug. 14, full-scale raids resumed with 828 B-29s escorted by 186 fighters first attacking Iwakuni, Osaka and Tokoyama, and then firebombing the cities of Kumagaya and Isesaki. In the last action of the air war, two B-32s did a “photo reconnaissance run” over Tokyo on Aug. 18 but were heavily damaged by surviving Japanese fighter aces.

    In 1853, US Admiral Perry threatened Japan with annihilation if she did not allow US merchants to trade on the unfavorable terms dictated by Washington. Ninety years later…

    As for Pearl Harbor, in the summer of 1940 FDR ordered a powerful naval assault fleet from its home bases in California to Territory of Hawaii (where American planters had overthrown the Hawaiian queen less than fifty years earlier). Coming amidst sanctions, freezing of Japanese assets, and extremely bellicose rhetoric, it’s not hard to see that the Japanese government acted justifiably to preemptively eliminate what seemed like the invasion fleet promised decades earlier.

  4. torture this
    July 8, 2023 at 13:40

    Not to worry. Nobody learned a f’n thing. The monsters in Washington have completely taken over and the leaders in Japan are ready to jump on the war wagon with them. If they’d have gotten the bomb first, does anyone doubt they’d have used it in a heartbeat? 80 years from now they’ll be arguing about who started WWIII if they’re lucky. Btw, it was the US.

  5. Susan Leslie
    July 8, 2023 at 12:28

    Look at Ukraine – this is what our “wonderful” country does – we bomb other countries into submission. Hooray for the red, white and blue!

    • Leslie Susan
      July 9, 2023 at 21:02

      Who is bombing Ukraine?

      • Consortiumnews.com
        July 10, 2023 at 08:47

        Both sides. Ukraine started in 2014.

  6. Tony
    July 8, 2023 at 08:03

    The United States had already destroyed just about every city in Japan with massive conventional bombing. And so, destroying two more cities would not be expected to make a difference.

    After the atomic bombings, the United States clarified what it meant by ‘unconditional surrender’. It would mean the emperor would be retained. It could have made such a commitment in the first place.

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    July 8, 2023 at 05:45

    Shame on both!!! US hegemony…one or two bombs at a time.

  8. July 8, 2023 at 04:40

    Have you read The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffith?

  9. onward
    July 7, 2023 at 22:53

    That the WW2 nuclear explosions on Japan were an unnecessary US expression of military power.
    Thankyou CN for publishing this.
    The Emanual Rahm comment is cheap PR.
    I remember in the US the many public objections to Rahm being appointed US ambassador to Japan.

  10. July 7, 2023 at 22:13

    Ah yes. Good old Rahmbo Emmanuel. Always serving elite corporate interests. And he can always be counted on to be crassly insensitive to and the needs and concerns of anybody else. (And Biden is not much better.)

    When Barack Obama newly became President and was considering Rahm Emmanuel to be his Chief of Staff (which he became), I remember one poster on a message board on another web site very strongly objecting to having Rahm-per-room in the White House.



    • Sick and tired
      July 8, 2023 at 20:36

      What a dreadful week. Elliott Abrams! Rahm Emmanuel! #%*! These persons keep oozing up from their slimy environs

  11. Zoran
    July 7, 2023 at 22:00

    This article reminded of similarities with 9/11. Nearly 4000 Americans die and how many millions Arabs has the US and its Allies slaughtered in return.

    • Bob Martin
      July 8, 2023 at 03:34

      Exactly. Because in the eyes of white supremacists, white lives are worth vastly more than those of brown people. Absolutely disgusting.

  12. wildthange
    July 7, 2023 at 20:29

    Brig. Gen. Carter Clarke:
    “We brought them[the Japanese] down to an abject surrender through the accelerated sinking of their merchant marine and hunger alone, and when we didn’t need to do it, and we knew we didn’t need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didn’t need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs.”
    p359 “The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth” by Gar Alperovitz

    It is simple two prototypes to compare and contrast one cities saved from the massive fire bombings for the test. Lives may have been wasted in waiting for the bombs to be ready versus letting Japan surrender.

    Massive bombing and firebombing are also effective in rendering an enemy obedient for survival after ward and in destroying infrastructure for modernized reconstruction and investment opportunities afterward as in the Ukraine. It may be similar to a hostile corporate takeover in effect.

  13. Fritz
    July 7, 2023 at 18:29

    One of several reasons I ceased reading Common Dreams over a year ago was because of statements like this by Julia Conley:
    “Japan’s surprise attack on Naval Station Pearl Harbor in…”

    The citizens of the United States of Atrocities (USA) have been lied to over and over again it was a “surprise attack”.

    The American POTUS FDR and others high up the food chain knew the Japanese were going to attack, and that attack would be the excuse the USA needed to enter the war which most people of the USA were against entering.

    The USA had cut off Japan’s supply of oil and Japan needed that oil every bit as much as 21st century German industry needed inexpensive Russian gas to remain competitive.

    The same sort of manipulations occurred with the sinking of the Lusitania while sneaking USA arms to the Great Mitten during WW I as an excuse for the USA to enter that war.

    • Bob Martin
      July 8, 2023 at 03:35

      Agree. I noticed the same thing.

    • Susan Siens
      July 8, 2023 at 17:28

      Thank you, Fritz. One does become rather tired of the cheap phraseology indulged in by so many people who should know better.

      And people should also think about the fact that Hawaii was a U.S. COLONIAL possession. As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz pointed out, we couldn’t stop once we reached the Pacific, we just had to keep pushing west.

  14. jamie
    July 7, 2023 at 18:15

    it is beautiful to see that someone in Japan has kept the pride, the empathy, the love, the sanity… when Biden visited Japan this year for the anniversary he refused to apologize for such human monstrosity, while Japanese authority bowed to this absurd inhuman act, worthy of the worst dictators. Perhaps, Japanese leadership has grown accustomed to serve the worst humans in history, a leadership with truly sadomasochistic itch.
    I remembered long ago in my teen years watching pearl harbor with a Japanese friend, he walked out of the movie theater with absurd shame and remorse, I thought it was excessive and somewhat idiotic, knowing what US did to Japan several years after.
    How a culture can destroy its people, “cultures of serving” are a way to adapt and survive, Japan, Switzerland, etc knows something about it, but the price the people living in this sort culture pays, in term of human integrity, personal freedom, self-awareness and realization is enormous I believe.
    I hope many more Japanese wake up from the culturally induced spiritual numbness if not death

    • Miriam
      July 8, 2023 at 15:53

      Yes…I agree Jamie…to a point…but then NEWER questions about WHO and WHY APPROVED the TEPCO/General Electric management along with certain men within the Japanese current govt who DECIDED that INSTEAD of continuing to STORE the radioactive toxic wastewater at FUKUSHIMA it would be ‘easier and cheaper’ to DUMP their MILLIONS of metric tonnes of WASTEWATER INTO THE PACIFIC OCEAN….Imminently! they’ve unilaterally decided, apparently, that their minimal ‘treatment’ of reducing the Tritium radioactivity and calling it ‘SAFE’ to drink! and has been APPROVED by IAEA Tools who liked their ‘numbers’ and now that Japan has just about completed an undersea Tunnel, about 1 kilometer east of their coast and Forty Feet under the sea…to BEGIN DUMPING THIS SUMMER. Where has THIS STORY been ? Why has this story NOT been on the front pages or leading evening news in North America? AND this is NOT the end of the dumping..it will continue for the next…..DECADES…or until they can figure out how to make it all safe again for the F***** up marine environment….I’ve been fortunate to find 3 or 4 articles but after months of calling UN Environment Protection, IAEA NYC office, Environment Defense, NRDC, Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace Scripps Oceanographic institute, Woods Hole Oceangraphic Institute, etc etc and getting absolutely NOTHING in response i now am completely convinced that the Inmates are running the asylum….

  15. July 7, 2023 at 17:35

    The other reason was that the U.S. had a new toy and they wanted to know how it worked. They were not sure of the effects of the Bomb. and grossly underestimated the effect that radiation would have. It was an experiment with Japanese civilians as guinea pigs. That’s why there was so much interests in the health of the people who survived and what the death toll was. Medical people were pouring over the area and intensely collecting the data. No, they didn’t care about the people. They still don’t.

  16. Lois Gagnon
    July 7, 2023 at 16:42

    The US has never been on the side of justice. It is always on the side of raw power in service to global capitalism. Mass murder is used as a tool of dominance through terror. No one anywhere should have any illusions.

    • Bob Martin
      July 8, 2023 at 03:38

      Agree completely. It’s taken endless propaganda to cover up that nonstop criminal behavior. Most US residents have been brainwashed thoroughly by it, unfortunately.

    • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
      July 8, 2023 at 04:07

      I couldn’t agree more with this crisp and precise assessment of not the U.S. masses but of its ever war-mongering and waging elites !

  17. shmutzoid
    July 7, 2023 at 15:18

    Agreed, US nuke bombing of Japan was a message to the USSR.

    The USA is more religion than nation. …and, with all religions, myths and fables are concocted to valorize/inform/steer its adherents
    …….. The fable of “bringing about the end of the war and saving American lives” by bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a re-write of history intended to sustain a myth of “American virtue”. …….Hell, entirely airbrushed out of US media/education is the determinant role the USSR had in winning WWll. …….Indeed, the ongoing efforts to mythologize the role of the US in world affairs is an indoctrination meant to prop up that tired cliche about the US being the “exceptional/indispensable” nation. ……. It is a culture-wide, media-wide project that never ends. ……Most grow up never thinking of how they’ve been inculcated to think of der homeland in those terms. The lies/myths/propaganda are internalized early on and becomes one’s assumptive state throughout life. ….as with religion

    • JonnyJames
      July 8, 2023 at 16:15

      That’s my understanding as well. After the Nazis were defeated in the west, the USSR turned its attention east. In order to send a message to Stalin, and demonstrate the immense destructive power to the world the new weapons, they decided to drop the bombs. By this time, the former ally, the USSR was the new enemy of the US and Japan became a vassal of the US.

    • CaseyG
      July 8, 2023 at 18:22

      Hi shmutzoid:]

      This is all even more horrific—because after horrifically ruining and torturing the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—America went on to do even more ‘atomic” tests in areas like Nevada and the South pacific — But with US soldiers and island people as the guinea pigs this time..

  18. Rich Mynick
    July 7, 2023 at 13:08

    At the end of the article, Kunihiko Sakuma (chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organization) is quoted as saying, “It was clear that Japan was going to lose.” He said the attack was unnecessary and meant as a display of U.S. military power.

    He’s right, but more specifically, the use of the bomb was intended to convey a message to Stalin — namely, that he should recognize that the US was perfectly willing to use the new weapon ruthlessly, even to destroy a city of civilians, in pursuit of its geopolitical interests. The nuking of Hiroshima was about the future of relations between the US and the USSR; it was not really about ending the war with Japan, which was already a done deal.

    • Adam Gorelick
      July 7, 2023 at 16:56

      There is a world of difference between the Pearl Harbour attack and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. While the former was an attack on a then still neutral country, it was specifically targeting a military base. While the hell unleashed on the two Japanese cities was one of many acts of terrorism perpetrated in the war. The notion that the United States needed to employ the atomic bombs to end the war and save the lives of American troops, who would otherwise have to continue fighting the Japanese, is indeed propaganda from the Truman administration. By the time of the Trinity test a petition had been signed by a number of scientists working for the Manhattan Project expressing the belief that the bomb was no longer necessary and therefore immoral to use. The original purpose of the rush to create an atomic weapon was based on the not unfounded belief that the Germans were working on one. By the time of the Trinity test it was apparent that the German military was decimated, thanks in good part to the Soviets. Russia was also poised to launch an attack by sea on Japan by August of 1945. So there is a bit of irony in the fact that the intended “target” for the atomic assault was really Stalin’s Russia. Japan was bludgeoned by August of ’45, but hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were expendable to send a message to the Soviets. There were also a number of top U.S. brass who opposed the use of the bombs on Japan for the same reasons as the Manhattan Project dissenters; one of them was General Dwight Eisenhower.

    • Bob Martin
      July 8, 2023 at 03:40

      Absolutely agree.

  19. John K Leslie
    July 7, 2023 at 12:03

    Let it be known that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to show the Soviet Union “this what you can expect!” To pretend it ‘saved the life of thousands’ is pure rubbish.

    • Bob Martin
      July 8, 2023 at 03:40

      You couldn’t be more right. Thank you for your comment.

Comments are closed.