President Barack Obama visits Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Friday, May 27, 2016. Obama is the first US President to visit the place where the first atomic bombing happened, killing over 140,000 people nearly 71 years ago during the World War II.
President Obama said he will not apologize for what transpired but he was humble enough to pay tribute to the mishap. Together with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he visited the place to offer a wreath at the cenotaph for victims. He closed his eyes after laying the wreath to offer a prayer.
When he signed the guestbook before he started his speech, he wrote “find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.”
“A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself,” Obama said during his 20-minute speech.
“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder the terrible forces unleashed in the not so distant past. We come to mourn the dead … their souls speak to us and ask us to look inward. To take stock of who we are and what we might become,” he added. The Hiroshima bombing should never be forgotten according to him.
President Obama was also greeted by Hiroshima bombing survivors such as the 79-year-old Shigeaki Mori who created a memorial for American prisoners of war (POW) who were killed in the place during the WWII. Sunao Tsuboi, a 91-year-old survivor was also there, who is currently the chairman of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organization (HPCASO).
According to polls, the Japanese appreciate President Obama’s visit. The absence of apology is also not an issue to the majority. The fact that the US President acknowledges the incident is more than enough.
Before visiting Hiroshima, Obama visited the Marine Corps Air Station where he was welcomed and greeted by the US military force in Japan.