TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Clifton Truman Daniel (C), a grandson of former US president Harry Truman who authorised the atomic bomb drops 67 years ago, looks at Hiroshima A-bomb survivor Nobuo Miyake (L), 83, as he speaks at a symposium at the University of Tokyo on August 3, 2012. AFP Photo
A grandson of former US
president Harry Truman, who authorized the atomic bombing of Japan during World War II, met survivors in Tokyo Friday, calling it "a good first step towards healing old wounds".
Clifton Truman Daniel, 55, was in Japan to attend 67th anniversary ceremonies -- on August 6 in Hiroshima and August 9 in Nagasaki -- the first Truman relative to attend the annual events in the southern Japanese cities.
Tens of thousands of people come out every year to remember the 1945 atomic bombing, estimated to have killed more than 200,000 people, either instantly or from burns and radiation sickness following the blast.
Truman's grandson, a former journalist
who was invited by an anti-nuclear group, talked with a handful of survivors and students at a Tokyo University forum on Friday.
"The meeting was great," Daniel told reporters following the two-hour conversation during which he mainly listened to survivors who are now in their 70s and 80s.
"The most impressive thing is that survivors and students and all of us can come together and talk, and they can share their stories," said Daniel, who lives in Chicago.
In a separate interview with AFP, Daniel added that "it's a good first step toward heeling old wounds. We are looking at this ... as a good first step to talk and to better understand each other".
While opinions remain divided over whether atomic bombs were necessary to end the war, Daniel defended his grandfather, who ordered their use after Japan refused to surrender.
"I can't second-guess my grandfather... (but) there is no right decision in war," he said.
"My grandfather always said that he made that decision to end the war quickly. That's what he believed," Daniel added.
"My grandfather was horrified by the destruction caused by those weapons and dedicated the rest of his presidency trying to make sure that it didn't happen again.
"I hope that I can do the same to work to hopefully rid the world of nuclear weapons," he said.