As the world commemorates the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, J. David Simons, author of bestselling novel An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful, has claimed that America has never had a proper debate or introspection about this extremely difficult and sensitive subject.
He argues: 'The justification for the bombs was that they saved America from a full-scale invasion that would have resulted in the deaths of over a million lives, both American and Japanese. I believe that this is a hugely inflated figure. However, even if you were to accept that argument, why not bomb a military target rather than a city of civilians? And why the second bomb?
'However, whether or not these bombings were justified remains a moot point these days - everyone will have their own side to take. My main concern is that I don't feel America has really had a proper debate or introspection on the subject. To this day, I feel that when the US criticises other countries for their nuclear programmes, it tends to forget it still is the only country ever to have used these weapons.'
Simons, who spent seven years working and living in Japan, wrote An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful to express his feeling that America is still in denial over the use of the atomic bomb on Japan. 'The main reason [I wrote the book] is the sense of injustice I have always felt about America destroying two cities and killing 200,000 civilians in just two days, not to mention the further loss of 100,000 lives caused by the firebombing of Tokyo five moths earlier. I don't think there is anything that justifies such mass destruction of innocent lives. I don't think it is an act of war that would be acceptable today.'
The full interview with J. David Simons is available here.
An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful has been longlisted for The Guardian's Not the Booker prize. For more details and to vote, please click here.