On Pearl Harbor visit, Abe pledges Japan will never wage war again


PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a symbolic visit to Pearl Harbor with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, commemorating the victims of Japan’s World War Two attack and promising that his country would never wage war again.

The visit, just weeks before Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office, was meant to highlight the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance amid concerns that Trump could forge a more complicated relationship with Tokyo.

“I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place,” Abe said.

“We must never repeat the horrors of war again. This is the solemn vow we, the people of Japan, have taken.”

Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor with torpedo planes, bombers and fighter planes on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, pounding the U.S. fleet moored there in the hope of destroying U.S. power in the Pacific.

Abe did not apologise for the attack, a step that would have irked his conservative supporters, many of whom say U.S. economic sanctions forced Japan to open hostilities.

“This visit to Pearl Harbor was to console the souls of the war dead, not to apologise,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo, adding the trip had showed that the allies would contribute to world peace and prosperity.

Obama, who earlier this year became the first incumbent U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945, called Abe’s visit a “historic gesture” that was “a reminder that even the deepest wounds of war can give way to friendship and a lasting peace.”

Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, built over the remains of the sunken battleship USS Arizona, although three others including his grandfather had made quiet stops in Pearl Harbor in the 1950s.

The two leaders stood solemnly in front of a wall inscribed with the names of those who died in the 1941 attack and took part in a brief wreath-laying ceremony, followed by a moment of silence.

“In Remembrance, Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan” was written on one wreath and “In Remembrance, Barack Obama, President of the United States” on the other.

They then threw flower petals into the water.

After their remarks, both leaders greeted and Abe embraced U.S. veterans who survived the Pearl Harbor attack.

In China, which has repeatedly urged Japan to show greater repentance for World War Two and Japan’s invasion of China, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said real reflection was needed, not show.

“Reconciliation between inflictor and victim must and can only be established on the basis of sincere and deep reflection by the inflictor,” Hua told a daily news briefing.


Japan hopes to present a strong alliance with the United States amid concerns about China’s expanding military capability.

During a meeting ahead of the Pearl Harbor visit, Abe and Obama agreed to closely monitor moves by China’s aircraft carrier, recently spotted on a routine drill in the Western Pacific for the first time, and to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

The leaders’ get-together was also meant to reinforce the U.S.-Japan partnership ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of Trump, whose opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and campaign threat to force allied countries to pay more to host U.S. forces raised concerns among allies such as Japan.

Source:  “On Pearl Habor visit, Abe pledges Japan will never wage war again”, Reuters, 28 December 2016

9/11 – 15 years on

Image result for 9 11 memorial london

Hello Hugo

I visited the 9/11 Memorial Garden in London’s Grosvenor Square, close to the (soon -to-be relocated – as announced in the year of your birth) American Embassy, late afternoon today.  It is a beautiful place.  The photograph above is one obtained from the internet.  I took some myself, including of the Embassy itself, with its flag at half-mast, buttressed each side by the Eisenhower and Reagan statues, but due to technology problems have not been able to transfer them to this blog yet.  I will add them below, including a photograph of the US Ambassador’s message taken in the garden, when I can.

I first flew to Japan on 9/11 itself, learning of the heart-breaking events in the States whilst stopping off for lunch with my father in a pub at Boston Manor (which sounds far grander than it is, as Google will confirm) on the Piccadilly Line out to Heathrow Airport; it was the first and to date only time that I boarded an aircraft not being quite sure whether I would be getting off at the other end.

The garden is beautiful and typical of London’s wonderful parks and open spaces which I hope you will enjoy one day.




Grosvenor square, London,11 September 2016



Hiroshima visit by Obama


Hiroshima memory must never fade, Obama says on historic visit

  • 10 minutes ago
  • From the section Asia
Obama hugs atomic bomb survivor Shigeaki Mori, 27 MayImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Obama hugged atomic bomb survivor Shigeaki Mori

Barack Obama has become the first serving US president to visit Hiroshima since the World War Two nuclear attack.

Mr Obama said the memory of 6 August 1945 must never fade, but did not apologise for the US attack – the world’s first and only nuclear bombing.

Mr Obama spoke to a number of survivors and in an address called on nations to pursue a world without nuclear weapons.

At least 140,000 people died in Hiroshima and another 74,000 two days later in a second bombing in Nagasaki.

‘Best of friends’

Mr Obama first visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum before walking to the Peace Memorial Park, accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Both men stood in front of the eternal flame. Mr Obama laid a wreath first, followed by Mr Abe.

“Death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” Mr Obama said in his address, noting that the bombing had shown that “mankind possessed the means to destroy itself”.

Mr Obama said the memory of Hiroshima must never fade: “It allows us to fight complacencies, fuels our moral imagination and allows us to change.”

Of nuclear weapons, he said: “We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”

The bomb that changed the world

Mr Obama had earlier flown into the nearby Iwakuni Marine Corp base nearby, after leaving the G7 summit.

Mr Obama told service personnel at the base: “This is an opportunity to honour the memory of all who were lost during World War Two.”

Mr Obama praised the US-Japan alliance as “one of the strongest in the world”, with his visit “a testament to how even the most painful divides can be bridged – how our two nations, former adversaries, cannot just become partners, but become the best of friends and the strongest of allies”.

The BBC’s John Sudworth, in Hiroshima, says that although Mr Obama made it clear there would be no apology for the attack, few would deny that this was a deeply symbolic gesture; the leader of the only country ever to have used an atomic weapon laying a wreath in a city that has come to symbolise the perils of our nuclear age.

Obama lays wreath, 27 MayImage copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Obama and Mr Abe both laid wreaths at the Peace Memorial Park
Barack Obama, 27 May, Iwakuni baseImage copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Obama praised US troops for their sacrifices, in his speech at the Iwakuni marine base

Many in the US believe the use of the nuclear bomb, though devastating, was right, because it forced Japan to surrender, bringing an end to World War Two.

The daughter of one survivor, who was visiting the memorial on Friday, said the suffering had “carried on over the generations”.

“That is what I want President Obama to know,” Han Jeong-soon, 58, told the Associated Press news agency. “I want him to understand our sufferings.”

Seiki Sato, whose father was orphaned by the bomb, told the New York Times: “We Japanese did terrible, terrible things all over Asia. That is true. And we Japanese should say we are sorry because we are so ashamed, and we have not apologised sincerely to all these Asian countries. But the dropping of the atomic bomb was completely evil.”

‘Just listen’ – Japan’s media on the visit

The Chugoku Shimbun urges Mr Obama to “hear the voices of Hiroshima”. “The people of Hiroshima will be watching the president closely, eyeing to what extent he is truly resolved to advance the abolition of nuclear arms,” it said.

The Asahi Shimbun carries an article saying Mr Obama’s “gestures will shape the visit”, with the “most powerful gesture” being to “just listen to the bomb victims’ memories of suffering and activism”.

The Japan Times says: “To truly pay homage to those whose lives were lost or irrevocably altered by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Obama’s visit must galvanise the international community to move without delay toward a world free of nuclear weapons. The fact that these weapons have not been used over the past 70 years does not guarantee a risk-free future for our children.”

Source: BBC Monitoring

Jimmy Carter visited Hiroshima in 1984, after the end of his presidency.

A US ambassador attended the annual commemoration for the first time in 2010.

Hiroshima – world’s first nuclear attack

  • The bomb was nicknamed “Little Boy” and was thought to have the explosive force of 20,000 tonnes of TNT
  • Paul Tibbets, a 30-year-old colonel from Illinois, led the mission to drop the atomic bomb on Japan
  • The Enola Gay, the plane which dropped the bomb, was named in tribute to Col Tibbets’ mother
  • The final target was decided less than an hour before the bomb was dropped. The good weather conditions over Hiroshima sealed the city’s fate
  • On detonation, the temperature at the burst-point of the bomb was several million degrees. Thousands of people on the ground were killed or injured instantly

The hours before the bomb was dropped

The ‘sanitised narrative’ of Hiroshima bombing

In pictures: The first atomic bomb

Source:  “Hiroshima memory must never fade, says Obama on historic visit”, BBC News, 27 May 2016

John Kerry makes historic visit to Hiroshima memorial


John Kerry makes historic visit to Hiroshima memorial

  • 1 hour ago
  • From the section Asia
G7 foreign ministersImage copyright AFP
Image caption The ministers were presented with necklaces made of paper cranes in their national colours

US Secretary of State John Kerry has made a historic visit to the Hiroshima memorial in Japan, which commemorates the world’s first atomic bombing.

He is the first US secretary of state to ever visit Hiroshima, where around 140,000 were killed when the US dropped its atomic bomb in 1945.

Mr Kerry was joined by foreign ministers from the G7 group of nations who are holding talks in the city.

They laid wreaths at the memorial and observed a minute of silence.

The ministers also visited the Bomb Dome, over which the A-bomb exploded, and the nearby Hiroshima museum, which tells the personal stories of people who died.

Mr Kerry wrote in the museum guestbook that it was “a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself”.
UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State John Key wave at school children at HiroshimaImage copyright AFP
Image caption UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State and other ministers were greeted by Japanese school children

What happened in Hiroshima?

HiroshimaImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption A mushroom cloud over Hiroshima following the explosion of an atomic bomb
A bombed out landscape in Hiroshima, following the explosion of the first atomic bombImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Much of the city was utterly destroyed

At 08:10 local time on 6 August 1945, the US B-29 bomber the Enola Gay dropped a uranium bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” on Hiroshima. It exploded 600m (1,800ft) above what is now the Hiroshima Peace Dome.

About 70,000 people died immediately. At least 140,000 people had died by the end of the year through injury and the effects of radiation.

The bombing, and a second bomb dropped on Nagasaki three days later, forced Japan to surrender, initiating the end of World War Two.

Why is Mr Kerry’s visit significant?

The US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Hiroshima in 2008, but US diplomats have largely avoided official visits.

Many in the US believe the bombing was necessary to end the war, and do not want their leaders to take any action which might be seen as an apology.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Canada's Foreign Minister Stephane Dion lay wreaths at the Hiroshima memorialImage copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Kerry (second left) laid wreaths next to Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and their G7 counterparts
John Kerry and Fumoi Kishida (centre) with other G7 leaders at the Hiroshima memorialImage copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Kerry and Mr Kishida were seen with their arms briefly around each other at the memorial

Mr Kerry previously said his time in Hiroshima would “revisit the past and honour those who perished” but stressed that his trip was “about the present and the future”.

It also comes amid efforts to strengthen the relationship between the US and Japan, particularly with growing concern about China’s assertiveness in territorial disputes in Asia, affecting Japan and other US allies.

Could it lead to further visits?

President Barack Obama is attending a G7 leaders’ summit elsewhere in Japan in May, and there are reports he is considering a stop in Hiroshima.

If it happens, it will be the first time a sitting US president visits Hiroshima.

Read more about the world’s first atomic bomb

Source: “John Kerry makes historic visit to Hiroshima memorial”, BBC News, 11 April 2016

Madonna has ‘basically accepted she’s not getting Rocco back’

Madonna has ‘basically accepted she’s not getting Rocco back’

Madonna is growing to realise that she cannot force her teenage son Rocco to live with her, friends say


Madonna with son Rocco

Madonna with son Rocco  Photo: Getty

Madonna has reluctantly accepted that she is losing the battle to force her 15-year-old son Rocco to remain with her, it has been reported – despite the singer doing everything in her power to bring the teenager back.

The 57-year-old divorced Rocco’s father, British film director Guy Ritchie, in 2009 and moved back to the United States.

Madonna and Mr Ritchie had adopted a child from Malawi, David Banda, together in 2006 and under the terms of their divorce – filed in New York – their two children would live with her in the US.

Mr Ritchie at the High Court in London on Thursday

But in December, while Madonna and her family were in Europe as part of her Rebel Heart world tour, Rocco decided to stay with his father and his new wife, Jacqui Ainsley, in London.


Madonna then went to court to try and bring him back, even seeking to use The Hague Convention on child abduction to force his return.

On Sunday the New York Post quoted friends as saying that she had resigned herself to losing her son.

“She’s basically accepted she’s not getting Rocco back,” said a friend. “But she’s holding out to get him back for one weekend per month.”

Madonna and Guy Ritchie have taken their custody battle to court   Photo: Getty

On stage in Auckland on Friday night she burst into tears as she said: “There is no love stronger than a mother for her son,” dedicating a performance of La Vie en Rose to him.

Rocco was seen the next day cycling through London with his father.

Earlier in the week both Madonna and Mr Ritchie held a video conference in New York with the judge hearing their custody battle – who reprimanded the pair for failing to reach an agreement, without dragging the matter through the courts in the full blaze of publicity.

A day later the case was heard in London, with Mr Ritchie fighting to try and have the case heard under UK law.

Mr Ritchie with son Rocco

The case will return to the New York courts later this month, with Madonna asked to present her list of demands. They are believed to include the condition that Mr Ritchie set aside time in the week when she and her other children – Lourdes, 19, and nine-year-old Mercy – can speak to Rocco. The Michigan-born singer wants confirmation of her right to have a say in her son’s education, and reassurance about her son’s whereabouts.

She wants an adult to be informed of Rocco’s whereabouts when he goes out to parties, The Mail on Sunday reported, and a stipulation that Mr Ritchie provides him with “young, hip” bodyguards who can discreetly guarantee his security.

Madonna is also determined that the case continue to be heard in New York – where parents retain greater controls over their children until they are 18 – rather than in the UK where more freedoms are granted to 16-year-olds.

Source:  “Madonna has ‘basically accepted she’s not getting Rocco back'”, The Telegraph, 6 March 2016

Remarks:  The full facts are not very clear and nor frankly should they be as this should be a private matter but, despite being someone who has no interest at all in celebrities, I must say that this can only be incredibly difficult for Rocco’s mother; despite all the resources available to her she finds herself having to give up.  Rocco, though, is now of an age at which, for better or worse, he can speak with his feet – regardless of what the courts have to say about it.  I hope that parents and son can, as I believe the judge suggested, come to an out of court arrangement as to the future.  RY.