For the first time ever, the United States will have a representative at the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Nagasaki marking the 1945 atomic bombing of the city by the United States, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said Sunday.
“I am honored to be the first U.S. representative to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Nagasaki, and to express my respect for all the victims of World War II,” said Chargé d’Affaires James P. Zumwalt, who was standing in for Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos.
The Nagasaki ceremony will take place Tuesday, Aug. 9, the anniversary of the bombing. Zumwalt also attended the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima a few days earlier.
Roos made history by becoming the first U.S. representative to attend the commemoration ceremony in Hiroshima last year, but did not attend the Nagasaki ceremony due to “scheduling difficulties,” noted The Japan Times.
Ambassador Roos will not attend the event himself due to “previously scheduled travel” plans, but sent his “deep respect” to the citizens and mayors of both cities, stated the U.S. Embassy’s press releases.
Sakue Shimohira, 76, a Nagasaki atomic bomb survivor said, "For a long time we asked someone to represent (the U.S. government), but no one came until now,” reported The Japan Times.
"I respect this decision, which, I guess, needed some courage,” said Shimohira.
“The United States looks forward to continuing to work with Japan to advance President Obama’s goal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons,” said Zumwalt of his Nagasaki visit, in a U.S. Embassy press release.
Nagasaki mayor, Tomihisa Taue also called this "a step forward" toward creating a world without nuclear weapons and hopes that Zumwalt will "pray for the people killed by the atomic bomb, speak with survivors, and deepen understanding" of the long-lasting suffering caused by the atomic bombs, according to The Japan Times.