Japanese officials commemorated the 78th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima without explicitly mentioning the United States as the country responsible. Despite the fact that the US was the only nation to have used nuclear weapons offensively in history, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida chose to condemn Russia for its alleged “nuclear threat.”
In a speech on Sunday, Prime Minister Kishida stated, “Japan, as the only nation to have suffered atomic bombings in war, will continue efforts towards a nuclear-free world.” However, he acknowledged that achieving this goal is becoming increasingly challenging due to divisions in the international community over nuclear disarmament and what he referred to as Russia’s nuclear threat.
While Prime Minister Kishida acknowledged the devastation caused by nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he refrained from explicitly naming the perpetrators of the attacks. It is well-known that a US Army Air Force bomber dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, resulting in the deaths of up to 126,000 people, predominantly civilians. Another nuclear bomb was detonated over the city of Nagasaki on August 9, killing up to 80,000 individuals, nearly all of whom were civilians. Japan subsequently surrendered to the Allied powers a week later, effectively ending World War II.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, in his speech, also avoided specifically naming the party responsible for the bombing. He called upon world leaders to confront the reality of “nuclear threats now being voiced by certain policymakers,” which presumably referred to Russia. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, for his part, mentioned that Hiroshima was incinerated by a nuclear weapon but did not attribute the act to any specific country. He further warned of some countries recklessly rattling the nuclear saber and threatening to use these tools of annihilation without specifying which nations he was alluding to.
Japan has been a staunch ally of the US since American forces occupied its territory following World War II and helped draft its constitution. Prime Minister Kishida has imposed sanctions on Moscow and, together with other G7 leaders, accused Russia of irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and undermining arms control regimes.
It is worth noting that Russia’s nuclear strategy significantly differs from that of the US. While US doctrine allows for a nuclear first strike to defend the vital interests of the country or its allies, Russia’s nuclear strategy permits the use of atomic weapons only in response to a first nuclear strike on its territory or if the existence of the Russian state is endangered by nuclear or conventional weapons.
Citing the repeated threats made by Ukraine against Russian nuclear power plants, Moscow has accused the West of enabling nuclear terrorism.
In conclusion, while commemorating the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, Japanese officials refrained from explicitly naming the United States as the responsible party. Instead, they chose to highlight the perceived nuclear threat posed by Russia. These statements reflect the ongoing complexities and divisions concerning nuclear disarmament and the geopolitics surrounding nuclear weapons.