A group of faith-based peace activists will lead a small contingent to Japan to mark the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to apologize for the U.S. action.
“We want to acknowledge the tremendous damage done by our country, by what has happened,” long time Tacoma, Wash., peace advocate Jesuit Father Bill Bichsel told Catholic News Service. “We wish to attach ourselves to the continued work of nuclear abolition.”
The trip gets under way July 31. Sixteen people from various faith traditions will make the journey to the two cities on the anniversaries of the bombings: Aug. 6 for Hiroshima, Aug. 9 for Nagasaki. The group includes Dominican Sister Teresa Montes, Franciscan Father Louis Vitale, Catholic Worker and U.S. Navy veteran Tom Karlin and Mitch Kohjima, a former Buddhist monk.
Father Bichsel, 81, who has committed acts of civil disobedience to express his opposition to the nuclear weapons present at the Naval Base Kitsap near Seattle, has been working with Bishop Joseph Atsumi Misue of Hiroshima and Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki to coordinate activities.
The apology is necessary in order to begin to repent for the sins of war, Father Bichsel said.
“What we have done not only has inflicted tremendous damage on the Japanese, it also has done tremendous damaged on the (American) people when we don’t remember what we have done,” he said.