And the steps towards a nuclear free world


The war was at its peak. The Japanese forces had already attacked Pearl Harbor. Neither the Americans nor the Japanese would let any moment go wasted to attack its rival. Finally, the US along with Great Britain and China issued the Potsdam Declaration. On 26th July 1945 these nations united with an agenda to call upon the Japanese government to formally proclaim unconditional surrender of its armed forces and end World War II to avoid any further bloodshed.


The prime minister of Japan responded in a press conference that they were holding to a policy of mokusatsu. This word, “Mokusatsu”, is ambiguous in Japanese language and has no exact counterpart in English. It can mean either “to refrain from comment” or “to ignore” and in this particular context, the prime minister meant the latter definition. The interpretation spread like wildfire through the international news that Japan had decided to “ignore” the Potsdam ultimatum – an act of perceived hostility to which America reacted by dropping the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945, following it some days later with another bomb on Nagasaki.


The tragedy engulfed around 20 million people, not including the widespread and long lasting after effects. The incident had such strong and long-lasting traumatic impact on the people of Japan that when Obama visited Hiroshima recently (on 27th May 2016), he was asked to apologise to the families of the affected. It is doubtful that Japan is ever going to forget this harrowing part of their history, although Japanese government officials have said that after the visit, the painful memories will begin to dissipate. As to what foreign policy America should adopt now, I would refrain from commenting or suggesting. The US insists that they did what they thought was right according to their interpretation of the situation and remind us of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 as justification. After all, it was World War II, with tensions running high for both nations; neither one would miss any opportunity to take advantage of and gain superiority over their rival.


It should be remembered that Obama is the first sitting US president to pay a visit to Hiroshima after World War II and lay a wreath on a cenotaph. Upon demand, Obama did not apologise, but rather showed his heartfelt sympathies to the affected families. He might personally have wanted to apologise, but the President of the United States admitting wrong might not have been appropriate for him to seem ‘weak’ in the eyes of his people. And then the visit alone was enough to express his intentions.


Communication is so important in our daily lives that if it is used wrongly (or even misperceived), it can lead to very disastrous consequences. As this world is becoming a global village and business opportunities expanding, our interaction with people from different countries and cultures is increasing like never before. We will also develop acquaintance with different languages and not having proper command of how a word in one language can have a dual meaning in another language, we may make a mistake of using a word that has meaning unlike what we are trying to communicate. And then a world where every country is either trying to become a nuclear power or is already one, wrong usage of diction or misinterpreting what the other party is trying to say can have fatal consequences.


One word cost the lives of over 20 million people. It merits contemplation. Otherwise, we will forever be trying to prove that is not what we tried to say and before we know it, the lives of another 20 million people would have been lost.


If Obama has mustered up courage to be the first US president since 1945 to step on the soil of Hiroshima and view the consequences first hand, he should also take steps to controlling nuclear weapons in the world even after he steps down from his presidency and live up to the label of peacemaker he was awarded with following his Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.


It is okay if India (and not Pakistan) was supported by USA over NSG membership, but India should have been asked to sign The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to be able to fall on the eligibility criteria. If democracy stands on the ethical principle of equality between man and man, it cannot be built upon the immoral basis of inequality between nation and nation.


Both Pakistan and India should be brought to a platform where they sign a contract and take steps in preventing the growing arms race in the region and rather invest in their people. Stable relations would also have positive effects on the adjacent countries. Nuclear war is no good to anyone and the countries should make efforts towards international unity on this matter.