BUENOS AIRES – The White House is considering a possible visit by President Barack Obama to Hiroshima, the Japanese city devastated in history’s first atomic bombing at the close of World War II, a U.S. official told AFP.
The official, who asked not to be named, said the details of Obama’s visit to Japan for a Group of Seven summit in late May had yet to be finalized, but a trip to Hiroshima had not been ruled out.
Obama is scheduled to participate in the summit of leading democracies in Mie Prefecture.
In 2008, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Hiroshima, becoming the highest, sitting U.S. political figure to visit the city.
Japan has long urged world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see the horrors of the atomic bombings and join efforts to eradicate nuclear arms.
Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese government’s top spokesman, refrained from directly commenting on the reports, but reiterated Tokyo’s position.
“The government has always called on leaders around the world to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see for themselves the reality of atomic bombings,” Suga said.
“We believe (visits) are important to boost international momentum toward achieving a world without nuclear arms.”
Washington will make its final decision after a planned trip to Hiroshima by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for a meeting of the G-7 foreign ministers on April 10-11.
On Aug. 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing about 140,000 people, including those who survived the explosion itself but died soon after due to severe radiation exposure.
Three days later, the U.S. military dropped a plutonium bomb on the port city of Nagasaki, ultimately killing some 74,000 people.
The bombings are controversial in the United States, where opinion remains divided over whether their use in the closing days of World War II was justified.