Obama to make historic Hiroshima visit after G-7 summit

Obama to make historic Hiroshima visit after G-7 summit
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - US President Barack Obama will make a historic visit to the site of the world's first atomic bombing in Hiroshima after the G-7 summit in Japan in May, US sources said.

Obama will be the first sitting US president to visit the city, which was devastated by an American nuclear bomb dropped in the final days of World War II on Aug. 6, 1945.

The trip is highly sensitive for both the Japanese, some of whom view the Hiroshima bombing as an unjustified atrocity against civilians, and the Americans, who tend to regard it as a necessary step that helped end the war early. Obama is likely to be careful during his visit to ensure that it does not appear "apologetic," which would arouse anger at home. Japanese citizen groups have previously demanded that the US apologise for the bombing.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be present during the visit to the Hiroshima memorial site, according to the sources. The memorial, centred on the remains of the A-Bomb Dome, a former exhibition hall that has been preserved as a monument, commemorates the approximately 80,000 Japanese killed by the first use of an atomic weapon in war.

While in Hiroshima, Obama is expected to make a speech calling for "a world without nuclear weapons," one of his signature political crusades. US Secretary of State John Kerry became the first sitting secretary of state to pay his respects at Hiroshima earlier this month, a trip which was widely seen at the time as paving the way for a presidential visit. Kerry laid a wreath but did not bow or lower his head during his time at the memorial.

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