WikiLeaks has released a cable from 2009, in which John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, tells the Obama White House that, per his conversation with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka, it would not be especially prudent for President Obama to offer Japan an apology for the U.S.’s bombing of Japan during WWII.
Apparently, the Japanese government feared that an apology might lend strength to groups that oppose nuclear weapons and cite the mass destruction in Japan as a reason to ban weapons of mass destruction.
The cable was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before Barack Obama‘s planned visit to Japan:
Anti-nuclear groups, in particular, will speculate whether the President would visit Hiroshima in light of his April 5 Prague speech on non-proliferation. He underscored, however, that both governments must temper the public’s expectations on such issues, as the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a “non-starter.” While a simple visit to Hiroshima without fanfare is sufficiently symbolic to convey the right message, it is premature to include such program in the November visit.
NPR quotes White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor as saying: “there was never any plan for the president to apologize. The president’s visit speaks for itself.”