Abe Should Visit Pearl Harbor

How the United States and Japan Can Strengthen Ties

The Japanese national flag flutters at half-mast in the foreground of the atomic bomb dome at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, in western Japan August 6, 1998.  Kimimasa Mayama / Reuters

According to the New York Times, U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima during this month’s G-7 summit in Japan. His doing so will be a welcome gesture that would encourage the nuclear nonproliferation regime, help strengthen the U.S.-Japanese alliance, and aid Washington’s rebalance to Asia, which depends on strong partnerships with regional allies. The timing couldn’t be better: all of those initiatives have been challenged by North Korea’s recent nuclear tests and China’s increasing military assertiveness in the South China Sea. 

A number of different groups, including U.S. veterans, Washington Republicans, and regional powers in Asia, fear that a presidential trip to Hiroshima, no matter how carefully choreographed, will be taken as an official state apology for the U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II—something that politicians on both sides of the aisle have

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