INTERVIEW: U.S. Diplomat Paved Way for Obama's Hiroshima Visit


Washington, Jan. 1 (Jiji Press)--A U.S. diplomat has recounted how he pushed Washington to change its policy of not attending the annual peace memorial ceremony in Hiroshima, laying the groundwork for the 2016 visit to the city by then President Barack Obama.

In a recent interview with Jiji Press, Joel Ehrendreich, now director of the Office of Japanese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, said that in 2005, he called for the U.S. ambassador to Japan to attend the Aug. 6 ceremony marking the U.S. atomic bombing of the western Japan city.

The United States had long taken the position that it would not participate in memorial ceremonies in the atomic-bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But Ehrendreich, a then official at the U.S. Embassy in Japan, made a presentation to some 20 officials, arguing that the ambassador should attend.

From his experience of visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and meeting hibakusha atomic bomb survivors, Ehrendreich believed that Washington needed to change its policy.

"I thought that us attending the ceremony could really help our people-to-people ties," he said.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press