The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The visit will carry tremendous meaning for both the US and Japan given that the world’s first ever nuclear attack was carried out by the USA against Hiroshima in 1945.
The visit is currently scheduled to take place on May 27th. According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, the purpose of Obama’s trip is “to highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
What Obama will not do, however, is “revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future,” wrote National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes. Obama’s visit was debated in the White House for months. On the one hand, proponents argued, Obama’s presence in Hiroshima could send a powerful message of the USA’s commitment to nuclear disarmament. On the other hand, his visit could rekindle an issue that is still debated in history classes today; was the USA’s decision to drop the nuclear bomb on Japan justified?
Obama’s trip will include a visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a large open space that includes a museum and the skeleton of a building that inexplicably survived the bombing. It is not certain yet if Obama will meet with survivors of the bombing. He will be accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
His visit to Hiroshima will be immediately followed by his final G7 Summit in Ise-Shima.