Obama will be the first US President to visit Hiroshima. But not to apologise

Barack Obama will travel to Hiroshima. He’ll be the first sitting American President to visit the city on which the US dropped the atomic bomb. However, he won’t apologise for what happened.

Sunao Tsuboi, 91, is a Japanese man who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945. For this reason, it’s quite impressive to hear Tsuboi’s optimistic words – reported by Japanese news website NHK – on US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Japanese city. This is part of his Asian tour taking place from the 21st to 28th of May. After the traumatic accident, Tsuboi became an anti-nuclear activist and said that “Obama should visit Hiroshima” to send an important message to the world against nuclear weapons.


Il presidente Obama durante una visita in Malesia. Dietro l'Air Force One © Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images
President Obama during his visit to Malaysia, disembarking from the Air Force One © Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images

The first sitting American President to visit Hiroshima

Obama announced he’s going to visit Hiroshima with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the 27th of May, becoming the first sitting American President in history to do so. His visit, however, doesn’t represent an apology for the 1,945 people killed instantly by the bombing and the 140,000 people who died throughout the following year. Not to mention the victims of the second nuclear bombing in Nagasaki on the 9th of August, which led Japan to surrender six days later. Similarly, Prime Minister Abe won’t push for an apology either. “Japan is the only country to be hit by a nuclear weapon, and we have a responsibility to make sure that terrible experience is never repeated anywhere,” Abe said.


Shinzo Abe, il primo ministro giapponese © The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister © The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

No apology for the bombing

The decision made by then President Harry Truman won’t be called into question. Obama “will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, said in a post on Medium. “Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future.”


Obama and Abe will visit the Hiroshima memorial – erected where the bomb had been dropped – and try to revive the process of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. The United States and Russia ratified the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which replaced all previous treaties on the matter) in 2010, aimed at reducing the two former superpowers’ nuclear weapons by 30 percent, i.e. to 1,550 units.


Il memoriale di Hiroshima, in Giappone © The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
Hiroshima Memorial, Japan © The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Some people think it was “necessary”

There are many Americans, mostly elderly people, who still think that the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to save both American and Japanese lives, given that a new American invasion of Japan would have been even more lethal. Instead, academics like Noam Chomsky – whilst bearing in mind Japan’s faults as well – have called that choice a war crime.

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