I’ve noted with some satisfaction that a story I wrote here more than two years ago has topped the “most read” list on this site since Saturday. Usually it’s easy to track why that happens, via a Google search for a major link or links, but in this case that has proved fruitless so far.
Still, I appreciate the attention for one of the dozen or more articles I write every year to mark the annual sad August commemorations of the atomic bombings of Japan. This piece happens to explore how US POWs were killed by the Hiroshima bomb, and then we kept it secret. The story is also told in my book about the decades-long US suppression of key film footage of the aftermath of the bombings, Atomic Cover-up.
The search for some reason why this story became suddenly popular again over the weekend took me to an unrelated recent interview with Caroline Kennedy, our new ambassador to Japan. I’ve written about how no US president has visited the two atomic cities while in office, and how President Obama at least as gone this far: sending our ambassador, for the first time, to the official ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’ve noted previously that Ms. Kennedy will likely now have that task this year, which completes a circle, you might say, going back to her father’s managing to avoid a nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis and later embracing the key Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Anyway, here from that intrerview is one interesting Q&A. I did not know that she visited Hiroshima with her Uncle Ted when she was in college—and that she has already gone to Nagasaki and met with survivors there. Bravo for that. A longer piece on her Nagasaki visit here. Note: No US media outlet covered or mentioned her visit to Nagasaki.
Q: Why did you go to Nagasaki only a few weeks after your arrival in Japan? Secretary of State John Kerry described the nature of Japan-US relations at the reception held in your honor in Washington as follows: “This is a symbol of reconciliation, symbol of possibilities, symbol of people who know how to put the past behind them, and look to the future and build the future together.” Did you try to set an example of “reconciliation” and “putting the past behind”?
A: I don’t think I’m “setting” an example; I think I’m following in a tradition. I first visited Hiroshima in 1978, with my uncle, Senator (Edward) Kennedy. And that really made a profound impression on me. I was a college student at the time, and I think it really affected me deeply, in terms of the importance of working for peace and continuing to work, as we move throughout our lives, as my uncle did.
So, the chance to go to Nagasaki was something that really meant a lot to me. The community there was so appreciative and welcoming to me. I didn’t necessarily expect that people would come out and say “thank you” for my visit.
I found it very, again, deeply inspiring, and meeting with the hibakusha as well, who were talking about their experiences and the work that they have done on behalf of Japan and the United States. So, I think that there is such a tradition between our countries and our peoples, and I would hope very much that I could make a contribution toward those efforts, going forward.