On Friday, President Obama will leave the G7 economic summit at Ise-Shima for a landmark visit to Hiroshima via the US base at Iwakuni to meet with officers of the US Marines and the Self-Defense Forces.
At Hiroshima the President will made a joint address with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on what many media outlets have trailed will be a critical atomic appraisal of the future of nuclear weapons(“Abe to issue message in Hiroshima with Obama,” Chicago Tribune, May 24 2016 http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-wp-hiroshima-abe-5a7280ac-2116-11e6-aa84-42391ba52c91-20160523-story.html)
The Japanese newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, reports that Mr Abe has decided that he will also issue a message calling for nuclear disarmament
Abe, it adds, aims to boost once again the momentum for nuclear disarmament as the leaders of the only country that has used nuclear weapons and the only country hit by atomic bombs will together call on the international community to work toward a world without these weapons.
On Friday, Obama and Abe will offer flowers at the cenotaph for the atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park before delivering messages.
One of the other global visitors in Japan will be David Cameron. A motion currently before Parliament, submitted by veteran Labour backbencher, Paul Flynn, backed by Labour, Scottish and Welsh Nationalists and two independent MPs, reads that The House of Commons:
“welcomes the announcement by President Obama that he will visit Hiroshima to highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons; and encourages the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to join President Obama in visiting Hiroshima to support the Presidential pledge to achieve a world without nuclear weapons by entering British nuclear weapons into multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.”
But why should Mr Cameron join his fellow political leaders in Hiroshima? Surely Britain had nothing to do with the atomic immolation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Actually, although kittle known, it did.
It was revealed in the Japan Times that Britain supported the use of atomic bombs by the United States against Japan in World War II, about a month before the first one was dropped on Hiroshima, according to documents recently declassified by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. ("Britain backed use of A-bomb against Japan: U.S. documents," 4 August 2013), http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/04/national/britain-backed-use-of-a-bomb-against-japan-u-s-documents/#.UgCkSHDn-M8)
The newspaper revealed that the British government officially expressed its support for using the new weapon against Japan at the Combined Policy Committee meeting in Washington on July 4, 1945, on the development and control of nuclear energy. Britain referred to atomic bombs as Tube Alloys (T.A.), a codename it used for wartime research on nuclear weapons.
According to the declassified minutes, British Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson told the meeting chaired by U.S. Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, that the British government “concurred in the use of the T.A. weapon against Japan.”
“The Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States had agreed that T.A. weapons should be used by the United States against Japan, the agreement of the British Government having been communicated” by Wilson, the minutes said.
The committee was established based on the Quebec Agreement made in August 1943 by the United States, Britain and Canada on coordinated development of atomic weapons.
Britain’s official agreement on the use of atomic bombs came after U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed at their September 1944 meeting in New York that an atomic bomb might be used against Japan when it was developed.
This is an additional reason why the UK needs to show some atomic atonement, and get on with nuclear disarmament.