A popular Japanese song can help us see what President Obama should have done when he recently visited Hiroshima.

Kyu Sakamoto (1941-1985) made Japan’s popular music world-famous in the early 1960s with his beautiful and sad song ‘Ue o Muite Arukò’; in the English-speaking world called ‘Sukiyaki’, which doesn’t really have anything to do with the title, but it sounds Japanese and is easy to remember for Westerners.

The meaning of the original title and the first sentence is; ‘I look up as I walk, so that the tears won’t fall, remembering those spring days.

But I am all alone tonight”. And it continues; “I look at the starts with tearful eyes, remembering those summer days. Happiness is beyond the clouds, though the tears well up as I walk. For tonight I am all alone, remembering those autumn days.” And it ends; “Sadness lurks in the shadow of the stars and the moon. I look up as I walk so that the tears won’t fall. I am all alone tonight.”

Sakamoto’s beautiful and sad song and whistling underline the pain in his heart because his beloved friend is gone; he is left only with good memories of a time gone by, of happiness and peace.

I don’t know if Sakamoto’s song was reference to the nuclear bomb America detonated over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, claiming to end the Second World War faster. But then there were hundreds of thousands who died and millions who lost their friends and loved ones.

Japan had been on Nazi Germany’s side during the Second World War. In Europe, the War had ended on 8 May, but continued in the Pacific for four more months. Japan refused to surrender unconditionally, and it controlled large parts of the region. The nuclear attacks were not about Nazi Germany; they were about whether USA or Japan should control the Far East region (and in Europe, the War was also about who should control that part of the world).

In the blink of an eye, some 70,000 people died in Hiroshima, and a similar number over the next months of radiation sickness and injuries; many more died later, and many suffered for the rest of their lives from physical and mental injuries and scars from the devilish weapon of mass destruction.

Even more inexplicable and unforgiveable was that 3 days later, on 9 August 1945, another atom bomb was flung over Nagasaki, killing 30-40,000 immediately and a similar number over some time later. A number of further atom bomb attacks had been planned, but were cancelled as Japan immediately surrendered. It is still debated whether the bombs had any role in Japan’s surrender – and the ethical justifications are still debated, well, it is entirely unforgiveable. Furthermore, it is inexplicable that the only country that ever used the atom bomb has become the policeman and judge of the world, deciding who else should have such weapons. In a logical and equal world, America and the West would have been charged for the unspeakable crime against humanity and never been allowed to stockpile such weapons.

A total of a quarter million people died immediately or slowly in the criminal atom attacks, although figures are disputed at the side of American and the Allied Forces. But Japan, anti-nuclear weapon activists and other peace activists, pacifists and all other sane and sensible people would not dwell as much on issues of magnitude at this level; the ugliness of America’s and the West’s face can’t be made less ugly by claiming that the victims were some ten thousands less.

In the popular song ‘Sukiyaki’, Sakamoto sing about the pain and loss of one loved one. How can we then even begin to quantify the direct and indirect pain inflicted on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that of all humanity?

It was America’s President Harry S. Truman who authorised the use of the atom bombs, for the first and hopefully, the last time. But Truman cannot personally be held countable; it was a decision by the country and the Allied Forces at a specific time; hence, all humanity must be kept responsible for the devilish action because the ‘mood of the time’ somehow allowed it. Added should be that much higher numbers, tens of millions died in other war actions on both sides during the Second World War; and that can also not be justified, as can indeed not the Holocaust of gassing and killings of Jews and others in the concentration camps, and the Nazis Winter War against the Soviet Union.

Yet, in my mind, the deliberate use of the atom bomb, the deadliest weapon ever invented by the ‘righteous and moral’ America and the West, is in a category of its own. Other weapons of mass destruction are also seen as unacceptable and illegal, notably chemical and biological weapons, along with nuclear and radiological weapons that kill and cause significant harm to large numbers of people. Other particularly cruel weapons, affecting civilians mostly, are also unacceptable, including cluster bombs, mines and many more.

When President Barak Obama last week came to Asia, to Vietnam and to Japan, he should have apologised for the use of the atom bombs in Japan, and for the terrible weapons used in the Vietnam War. He should certainly not have come to Vietnam with an offer to sell more deadly weapons to the land, this time not to fight communism, but because of an imagined threat by China and other neighbours.

Again, I believe Obama should have apologised from America’s war actions in Japan and Vietnam. There is no justification for the actions, and to hide behind the fight against Nazism and communism is shallow. Today, we hide behind ‘war on terror’, and we give ourselves special rights to do many things we should not do.

If Obama couldn’t apologise on behalf of America, for the terrible actions mentioned – and for all the hundreds of wars waged after the Second World War – he should have apologised on behalf of humanity. Yes, on my and your behalf; on behalf of the cruel and devilish behaviour that we human beings seem to be able to carry out and somehow justify. A child knows what is fair and right; we adults must not forget!

No, I don’t keep Obama alone responsible for not doing what he should have done. I keep us all responsible because we live in a time when the warmongers are more than in a long time, and because we don’t do enough to fight the only just and peaceful ‘war,’ notably to end all wars, to reach a pacifist world. The first steps would be to reduce and eliminate the enormous stockpiles of nuclear weapons, as Obama, too, talks about, and thus making it impossible ever to use such weapons again. Our active-peace duties also include provision of and participation in lifelong education programmes in a culture of peace for each person, group, country and all humanity. Then we could live the way God Allah intends us all to live – in harmony, love and care for each other.

May God Allah forgive us all for what happened when the atom bombs were used; may it never happen again. Let us find new ways of solving disagreements and conflicts, without the use of military and economic weapons. Let each of us take responsibility for engaging ourselves in positive actions for peace and development, not in talks and actions of war and terrorism. If we let the current trends continue, we are all accomplices in war-preparations and violence.

Sakamoto sang about his grief of the loss just of one single loved one. He thought he should look up in the sky so his tears would not fall and be seen. I say, let us cry openly so that everyone can see the madness in our time of war and conflict, including the way we deal with terrorism. Bad cannot be fought by bad. Bad can only be fought by good – in the name of God Allah, the eternal force of love in all religions and human life.