President Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, Japan.
The White House announced Tuesday the president will visit the city where an American warplane dropped an atomic bomb near the end of World War II. The visit is scheduled for May 27.
The president will not apologize for world’s first nuclear bombing, but will speak about the importance of limiting nuclear weapons, the White House said.
Obama wants to highlight the “devastating effects of war,” said Benjamin Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser. Rhodes made his comment in a blog posted on Medium.com.
The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 killed about 140,000 people. The U.S. dropped a second nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki three days later, killing as many as 80,000 people.
U.S. President Harry Truman said he ordered the bombings to bring a quicker end to World War II. Japan announced its surrender to the United States and its allies on August 15, 1945.
Obama’s visit to Hiroshima will come toward the end of his seven-day trip to Japan. He is attending meetings of the G7, the leaders of the world’s leading economies.
Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hiroshima last month.
"War must be the last resort, never the first choice," Kerry wrote in a memorial book at the Hiroshima World War II memorial.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to join Obama for his visit to Hiroshima. Rhodes said Obama and the prime minister will visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which remembers victims of the atomic bombing.
Keiko Ogura was eight years old when Hiroshima was hit with a nuclear bomb. She survived and is now 79.
“Before I die, I want to see the president, the sitting president’s face,” she told VOA. “That is not asking for an apology. No, just as a human being. You are here and we are standing on the same land, the same level land and then pray for the dead.”
Former President Jimmy Carter visited Hiroshima, but after he left office.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui praised Obama's plan to visit as an important decision, “based on conscience.” The mayor said he hopes the president will get to hear survivors’ stories.
Rhodes, the Obama adviser, wrote that the U.S. and its allies were fighting for a just cause in World War II against Japan and Germany.
“The United States will be eternally proud of our civilian leaders and the men and women of our armed forces who served in World War II for their sacrifice at a time of maximum peril to our country and our world,” Rhodes wrote.
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Words in This Story
devastating – adj. causing great damage or harm
conscience – n. the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong
eternally – adv. lasting forever
maximum – adj. the highest amount possible
peril – n. danger