U.S. Makes First Appearance at Hiroshima Bombing Memorial

Obama sends the U.S. ambassador to mark the bombing's 65th anniversary.

By Daisy Hernandez Aug 06, 2010

It took 65 years but the United States finally decided to send an ambassador to Japan to mark the solemn anniversary today of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. This would have been respectful, though long overdue, except for one fact: It comes at the same time that Obama’s administration is negotiating with Tokyo officials to increase the American military presence in Japan.

The Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima killed 140,000 people in a city that 350,000 men and women called home. Thousands died later of illness and injuries. Monday, Aug. 9, will mark the 65th anniversary of the second time the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Japan, this time on Nagasaki.

The average age of those who survived the bombing of Hiroshima is now 76 years old and they are still trying to get the Japanese government to recognize their ailments as being related to the bombing. The almost seven decades since the Hiroshima bombing hasn’t erased the terrifying memories. Survivor Mikiso Iwasa told ABC News that his mother "was a burnt black piece of mass dripping with bodily fluids. My mother was killed as a thing. Not as a human."

According to media outlets like Reuters and ABC, the decision to have the U.S. ambassador present at today’s ceremony is a signal that Obama really means it when he says he wants nuclear disarmament. That might be true but it just might also be that he wants to play nice to help with his other deal: finding a new site for a controversial American airbase.

Obama’s administration has been in tricky negotiations with Japan to relocate the air base so that more American soldiers can be stationed in the country. The controversy led Japan’s last prime minister to resign in June. The U.S. has about 49,000 military personnel in Japan now.

The airbase made international headlines in 1995 when three American soldiers kidnapped and raped a school girl. The men served prison terms in Japan. One later sexually assaulted a college girl in the U.S. and then killed himself.