Shorenstein APARC scholars discuss President Obama's visit to Hiroshima

Shorenstein APARC scholars discuss President Obama's visit to Hiroshima

hiroshima visit During a break in the G7 Ministerial Meetings in Japan, a delegation visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial on April 11, 2016 with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Flickr/U.S. Department of State

In the wake of this month’s G7 Summit in Japan, U.S. President Barack Obama has an opportunity to make a presidential visit to Hiroshima. Such a visit would reinforce his vision of a nuclear-free world and solidify an important legacy of his foreign policy, Shorenstein APARC Director Gi-Wook Shin and Associate Director for Research Daniel Sneider write in an editorial for The Diplomat. The co-authors argue that the visit be framed in a way that would contribute to historical reconciliation in Northeast Asia and not undermine progress made between Japan and South Korea. 

Sneider wrote in an earlier Toyo Keizei editorial that while the White House has not yet announced a decision, the momentum for such a visit exists. And while issues of divided historical memory cannot be ignored, the occasion would not include an apology. The editorial can be viewed online in English and Japanese.

Sneider also contributed to Public Radio International's podcast series "Whose Century Is It?" and two articles on the Huffington Post Japan website. The first article, written in Japanese, examines how the history of atomic bombings are taught in the United States, and the second article, written in English, explores the question of acceptability of President Obama's visit to Hiroshima by the Japanese people.

During the visit, Obama delivered a speech that outlined the threat of nuclear weapons and the need for a world free from them. Writing for, Sneider said the speech and overall visit was well-received by many, but also had its critics. "The best judgment of the impact of Obama's Hiroshima visit may be what follows in Northeast Asia, where the task of postwar reconciliation remains unfinished," he wrote. The editorial can be viewed online in English and Japanese.

Shin and Sneider lead a decade-long research project that examines historical reconciliation in Asia, and are co-authors of the forthcoming book, Divergent Memories, about elite opinion and wartime memory in Asia.