President Barack Obama will be the first sitting American President to visit the site of the WWII Hiroshima nuclear bombings. Obama plans to visit the site of the bombing during his late-May tour of Asia. The decision is mired in controversy as political pundits argue over whether his appearance will be considered an official apology from the United States to Japan for using nuclear arms to end WWII.
Obama’s decision to visit Hiroshima has brought critics and supporters out of the woodwork. One side argues that his visit to the bombing site is an apology to Japan and is an offense to anyone who fought and died for America in WWII. The opposing view argues that the visit will serve as a reminder the terrible destruction that nuclear weapons can inflict on a nation.
Obama plans to tour Peace Memorial Park. The park was constructed atop the busy commercial district obliterated by the bomb in 1945. He has expressed interest in touring the area earlier in his presidency during trips to Japan but avoided the visit for fear it would further his reputation as an apologist as Commander-In-Chief. He stated during an interview in 2009:
“The memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are etched in the minds of the world, and I would be honored to have the opportunity to visit those cities at some point during my presidency,”
The White House claims that the United States does not owe a formal apology to Japan and have stated that Obama’s presence will not amount to an apology. Officials state that the visit hopes to serve as a reminder of the destruction and long-standing environmental impact use of nuclear weapons can bring.
The purpose of the visit will be to deliver marks on nuclear non-proliferation. He hopes to dissuade the country from pursuing a nuclear armament. The visit comes on the heels of GOP candidate Donald Trump making statements that countries like Japan and North Korea having access to nuclear weapons and a controversial nuclear deal brokered between Iran and Western Nations.
Opponents of the visit are arguing that any presence amounts to an apology and is disrespectful to those that fought against the Japanese in WWII. Japanese officials have also shown distaste for a visit to the site from an American president. In 2009 a Japanese official said to then-Ambassador John Roos:
“it would be premature to include a visit to Hiroshima”
The criticism doesn’t seem to be dissuading Obama from making the visit and the trip is still scheduled for late may.
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