Right-Wing Media Hype False Story About Obama's “Apology” For Hiroshima

Right-wing media have been hyping the claim that a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks shows that President Obama had planned to “apologize” for the bombing of Hiroshima during his 2009 visit to Japan. But the cable only shows there was speculation from “anti-nuclear groups” that Obama might travel to Hiroshima after expressing support for a “nuclear-free world,” and the Obama administration has said no apology was ever planned.

IBD Claims Obama Planned “To Apologize For Winning The War With The Atom Bombs”

IBD: “Leaked Cables Show Japan Nixed A Presidential Apology To Hiroshima And Nagasaki For Using Nukes.” An October 11 editorial on Investor's Business Daily, titled, “Apologies Not Accepted,” claimed:

Leaked cables show Japan nixed a presidential apology to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for using nukes to end the overseas contingency operation known as World War II. Will the next president apologize for the current one?


Another stop on the tour was in Japan, where Obama in November 2009 bowed to the emperor, something no American president had ever done. It could have been worse if plans to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima to apologize for winning the war with the atom bombs had come to pass.


The Japanese feared the apology would be exploited by anti-nuclear groups and those opposed to the defensive alliance between Japan and the U.S.

Whatever Tokyo's motive, Obama's motive was to once again apologize for defending freedom, this time for winning with devastating finality the war Japan started. [Investor's Business Daily, 10/11/11]

Right-Wing Media Hype IBD's “Apology” Claims

NRO: “Obama Wanted To Apologize For Hiroshima.” In an October 12 post, editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg wrote on National Review Online (NRO) that “Obama Wanted to Apologize For Hiroshima ... But Japan declined” before citing and linking to the Investor's Business Daily editorial. [NRO, 10/12/11]

Limbaugh: Obama “Wanted ... To Apologize For Dropping The Bomb On ... Hiroshima And Nagasaki.” On the October 12 edition of his radio show, host Rush Limbaugh said that “Barack Obama, when he went to Japan, wanted ... to apologize for dropping the bomb on Niros -- Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Limbaugh went on to read excerpts from the Investor's Business Daily editorial. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/12/11, via Media Matters]

Drudge: “Obama Sought To Apologize For Hiroshima, Nagasaki; Japan Said No.” On October 12, Drudge Report linked to the Investor's Business Daily story with the following text:

[Drudge Report Archives, 10/12/11]

Big Government: Obama “Attempt[ed] To Apologize For The Atomic Blast At Hiroshima, [An Attempt] Which The Japanese, Appropriately, Rejected.” An October 12 post on Andrew Breitbart's blog Big Government claimed:

The same tendency is apparent in Obama's newly-uncovered attempt to apologize for the atomic blast at Hiroshima, which the Japanese, appropriately, rejected. Obama has had trouble, especially early in his presidency, distinguishing defense from aggression-especially when that defense is on behalf of western democracy. [Big Government, 10/12/11]

Fox & Friends Hypes Claim That Obama “Would Have Apologized To Japan” For Bombings. During a discussion of the WikiLeaks cable on the October 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that "[w]e would have apologized to Japan" and that “apparently the United States is not waiting for Japan to apologize for us for bombing us at Pearl Harbor or the Bataan death march.” At the end of the segment, Doocy acknowledged that the White House said there was never a plan for the president to apologize at Hiroshima. From the broadcast:

DOOCY: The latest document dump by WikiLeaks has indicated that apparently in September of 2009, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, a fellow by the name of John Roos, he told the Obama administration -- he sent a cable to Hillary Clinton that said that the country of Japan didn't think it would be a good idea for the president of the United States to visit Hiroshima and, they worried, apologize for us bombing them.

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Wait a second. We'll apologize for dropping a bomb?

DOOCY: That's right.

KILMEADE: In World War II?

DOOCY: Right. I'm -- apparently the United States [is] not waiting for Japan to apologize to us for bombing us at Pearl Harbor or the Bataan death march. We would have apologized to Japan -- we're so sorry. Almost about the same time as the whole apology tour -- we are so sorry that we bombed you back during WWII.

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): And that's important for the context, is that this WikiLeak was happening during the time when the president had given that speech in Prague in April 2009, where many people thought he was starting this apology tour for the United States. And remember, that's -- in that speech, he called for nuclear weapons to basically go bye-bye across the world. So I guess the thought process being that he would go visit Hiroshima to basically say hey, we're sorry that this happened, in [an] effort to support the speech that he had given just recently across the world.

KILMEADE: And guess who nixed it? Japan.

DOOCY: Japan.

KILMEADE: They kind of liked a nuclear umbrella that keeps China from invading them and North Korea from bombing them. So they don't think a nuclear-free U.S. is in Japan's best interest and an apology would do anything positive.

DOOCY: Sure. Well, here's the ultimate news, though. Tommy Vietor, a spokesperson for the White House, said yesterday, I know we don't comment on WikiLeaks dumps but, quote, “there was never any plan ” for the president to apologize. So there you go. Tommy Vietor settles it. They were never going to do it. Even though the documents looked like they were going to do it.

KILMEADE: I hope he's right. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/13/11]

But Cable Shows Speculation On Apology Came From “Anti-Nuclear Groups,” Not White House

ABC: “The Cable Does Not State That The Idea [Of A Presidential Apology] Was From the U.S.” In an October 12 article on ABC's website, White House correspondent Jake Tapper wrote that “the Japanese government did not think it was a good idea for President Obama to visit Hiroshima to apologize for the US having dropped an atomic bomb on that city.” Tapper continued:

[U.S. Ambassador to Japan John] Roos wrote the cable after his August meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka, reporting to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Japanese government felt “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.”

A senior White House official asserts to ABC News that there was never any plan for the president to apologize for Hiroshima. The cable does not state that the idea was from the U.S. Rather, Roos writes that Yabunaka thought that following President Obama's call earlier that year for a world free of nuclear weapons, anti-nuclear groups would speculate as to whether he would visit Hiroshima.

Yabunaka recommended that President Obama's November 2009 visit be focused mostly in Tokyo. [ABC News, 10/12/11]

WikiLeaks Cable Shows Yabunaka Was Addressing Speculation From “Anti-Nuclear Groups” Following The President's “April 5 Prague Speech On Non-Proliferation.” From the September 9, 2009, cable that was published on WikiLeaks website:

[Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji] Yabunaka pointed out that the Japanese public will have high expectations toward President Obama's visit to Japan in November, as the President enjoys an historic level of popularity among the Japanese people. 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. Yabunaka recommended that the visit in November center mostly in Tokyo, with calls on the Emperor and Prime Minister, as well as some form of public program, such as speeches, an engagement at a university, or a town hall-like meeting with local residents. [WikiLeaks, accessed 10/13/11, emphasis added]

FoxNews.com Also Admits White House Denies Administration Plan For “Apology”

FoxNews.com: White House Official Says “Administration Never Had A Plan To Apologize.” An October 13 post on FoxNews.com's “America's Election HQ” blog reported:

The White House says reports that President Obama planned to apologize to Japan for the U.S. using nuclear weapons to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War Two aren't true.

Though the White House doesn't typically discuss Wikileak cables, an administration official tells Fox News that there was never any plan for an apology and that the president's visit speaks for itself. [FoxNews.com, 10/13/11]

Right-Wing Media Routinely Claim Obama “Apologizes” For U.S.

Right-Wing Media Called Obama's April 2009 Travels An “Apology Tour.” In April 2009, right-wing media figures repeatedly called Obama's travels overseas an “apology tour” and referred to Obama as the “Apologizer in Chief.” [Media Matters, 4/10/09]

Fox Revived “Apology Tour” Smear In June 2009. Fox News revived their “apology tour” attack during Obama's travels in June 2009 to the Middle East and Europe. [Media Matters, 6/3/09]

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