U.S. Ambassador to Japan Defends MP National Historical Park

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Defends MP National Historical Park

Ambassador John Roos

John Roos, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, defended the proposed Manhattan Project National Historical Park in a January letter penned to the mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui. Ambassador Roos reassured Matsui that the Park will function as "an educational and commemorative facility” and "will provide insight into an undertaking that transformed American science, politics, economics, society and culture and left an indelible legacy for the world today." He explained the importance of historical contextualization, declaring, “As we look to the future and a world without nuclear weapons, it is fitting to remember that era through the lens of history, which the promised park aims to achieve."

Ambassador Roos’ letter responds to concerns expressed in letters by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and submitted to Roos in early December. Matsui stated, "The people of Hiroshima were profoundly alarmed" by the proposed Manhattan Project Historical Park. He argued that such a park would oppose "the wishes of the millions of people around the world calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons” and “would communicate an erroneous and dangerous message to future generations." Ambassador Roos’ diplomatically explains that the Park will serve as an educational tool and will consider the history of nuclear weapons from every angle.

The interpretation of the Manhattan Project Historical Park will be the responsibility of the National Park Service (NPS). With its long-standing oversight of controversial landmarks, including the Manzanar National Historic Site, a Japanese internment camp during World War II, and Little Bighorn Battlefield, the site of one of the last armed efforts by Native American tribes to preserve their way of life, the NPS is well practiced in telling the story of sites with divisive histories.

The Departments of Interior and Energy stand firmly behind the proposed Park. In summer 2011 NPS director Jonathan Jarvis emphasized the importance of educating future generations about the history of the Manhattan Project. He affirmed, "The National Park Service will be proud to interpret these Manhattan Project sites and unlock their stories in the years ahead." Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has also expressed his commitment to the Park, highlighting the historical significance of the Manhattan Project: “The secret development of the atomic bomb in multiple locations across the United States is an important story and one of the most transformative events in our nation's history. The Manhattan Project ushered in the atomic age, changed the role of the United States in the world community, and set the stage for the Cold War." Given the NPS’s established experience with interpreting historical landmarks, the Atomic Heritage Foundation is confident the Park will do an excellent job informing the public about the history of the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Age for many generations to come.

To read more about this story, please see the relevant articles in the Telegraph, the House of Japan, and the Japan Times.