Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Japan's Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma Apologizes, Resigns

Who's apology was not enough?

The defense minister stirred things up by sying that the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were inevitable. Uh-oh. That's all she wrote for this guy.

In a speech Saturday, Kyuma said the atomic bombings caused great suffering. But he added that Japan would have otherwise kept fighting and ended up losing a greater part of its northern territory to the Soviet Union, which invaded Manchuria on the day Nagasaki was bombed.

"I understand that the bombings ended the war, and I think that it couldn't be helped," he said.

Though Kyuma's statement was similar to the interpretation in the United States that the bombings hastened the war's end and thus saved lives, it contradicted the generally held Japanese stance that the use of nuclear weapons is never acceptable.

A ban on possession of such weapons is a hallowed tenet of Japan's postwar pacifist policies. Kyuma's remarks were slammed as both a tacit acceptance of the U.S. decision in 1945 and of the use of nuclear weapons in general.

"Abe should have said this is outrageous," said Tomoaki Iwai, a political scientist at Nihon University. "The atomic bombings are something that Japanese people can never forgive."

Kyuma was succeeded by National Security Adviser Yuriko Koike, the first woman to assume the defense portfolio in Japan.