By Eddy Montilla.
The visit of President Barack Obama to Hiroshima has large historic proportions, and not because he became the first American president in visiting this place that is a symbol of how catastrophic and devastating nuclear weapons are, but because his visit was a trigger for raising relevant questions: Why now? Why did not other presidents do that in the past? And, for Japanese people, the most important one: Should he say sorry for the atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima?
Just after the mass media made Obama’s visit public, many people were talking more about a possible apology from his part than his visit itself. Others went further by demanding expressions of regret. This situation, however, is not new. China and Korea have been demanding the same for the crimes and atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War, which is, in my opinion, something as absurd as that war was.
Love, gratitude and apologies can never be demanded. That only helps to make things worse because whenever you force someone to say sorry, his or her words of regret will be the result of the external pressure that forces him or her to say them. A forced apology will never be sincere, true or accurate since it will not come from the place it should: the bottom of the heart.
Atrocities and crimes during a war cannot be judged outside the context in which they occurred because people’s actions are anchored to the society and generation that people belong to. If you try to judge the Second World War with the mentality we have today, you will get an accurate or wrong evaluation. However, many Chinese, Korean and Japanese people refuse to move on about war’s considerations and have the same clashes every year that only cause them great distress, pain and frustrations. Learn from the past and then, leave it exactly where it should be: In the past.
This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion with Eddy Montilla.
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