Today, Barak Obama becomes the first American president to visit Hiroshima, Japan. His visit is part of a weeklong visit to Asia.

Bill and Ann Moore, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers worked in Hiroshima seven of their 30 years serving in Japan, giving them a unique view on the President’s historic trip.

“Especially for the people of Hiroshima, the visit to their city by a sitting U.S. president has great significance,” said Bill Moore. “A sitting U.S. president made the decision to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima so President Obama’s visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, located under the epicenter of the blast, is a sign to the people of Hiroshima that their immense suffering and the absolute devastation of nuclear weapons has been acknowledged at the highest level.”

The bomb, dropped on August 6, 1945 killed an estimated 70,000 men, women and children instantly and another 70,000 who died later from injuries and the effects of nuclear radiation. The White House has said the president will not apologize, but rather use the visit as a platform to call for a nuclear-free world.

“The upcoming visit has been widely reporter in the press and almost universally praised by the people of Japan,” said Moore. “Even though it has taken over 70 years for the visit to happen, there is the hope that it will bring healing to the remaining survivors and lead to progress in the quest for a nuclear free world.

Ann and Bill Moore.

Ann and Bill Moore. —Kathy Melvin

Watching public television in Japan, the Moores heard 91-year-old survivor, Sunao Tsuboi, speak about the President’s visit. “We are not asking for an apology,” he said. “All we want is to see him lay flowers at the Peace Park and lower his head in silence. This would be a first step toward abolishing nuclear weapons.”

The Moores are in Japan working with long-time PC(USA) partner, the Reformed Church of Japan (RCJ). The RCJ’s western presbytery invited the Moors to being a congregation in Nishitani, a rural community just north of the Osaka/Kobe metropolitan area. Bill is the organizing missionary and responsible for evangelistic outreach, pastoral care, preaching and organizational leadership. Ann directs the Sunday school and is involved in the women’s organization and leadership council.

Calling themselves, “ambassadors of Christ,” the Moores say many Japanese people are spiritually hungry and some are open to the Christian faith. Bill grew up in Korea, the son of Presbyterian missionaries. He is a graduate of Davidson College and Union Presbyterian Seminary. He was pastor of the Little Falls Presbyterian Church in Falling Waters, West Virginia before entering mission service. He is a member of the Shenandoah Presbytery.

Ann is a native of Korea and earned her bachelor’s degree from Jeiji University in Japan. In addition to mission service, she worked for a Japanese trading company and as an English tutor. She is a member of Little Falls Presbyterian.

The Moores are hopeful about the President’s upcoming visit.

Bill Moore said, “In Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the inspection on the Memorial Cenotaph that holds the names of all the victims of the atomic bombing reads, ‘Rest in peace, for the mistake shall not be repeated.’ “It is the hope of many people in Japan that President Obama’s visit will hasten the day when all nuclear weapons will be abolished from the face of the world and humankind may no longer live in terror that the mistake will be repeated.”


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