US Diplomat Honored for Insisting That U.S. Attend Annual Hiroshima Peace Ceremony

By STAFF | June 23, 2011 | 3:15 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — An American diplomat who successfully lobbied for the end of a U.S. boycott of Japan's annual Hiroshima peace commemorations is to be honored at the State Department for pressing his dissenting opinion and improving U.S.-Japanese ties.

Joel Ehrendreich will be given an award for "constructive dissent" on Thursday. He persuaded higher-ups that the U.S. ambassador to Japan should accept, rather than decline, the annual invitation to attend the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. Ehrendreich had argued for five years that the department should end its 59-year practice of refusing to attend the event, which marks the anniversary of Hiroshima bombing by the U.S.

Last year, the ambassador attended the ceremony, a move that helped strengthen U.S.-Japanese relations, according to the citation Ehrendreich will be given by the American Foreign Service Association.