WASHINGTON – Aides to U.S. President Barack Obama are looking at a possible unprecedented presidential visit to the atom-bombed city of Hiroshima during his trip to Japan in May, The Washington Post reported in its online edition Saturday.
“No final decision has been made, but aides have begun exploring the possibility of Obama spending several hours in Hiroshima in May,” after attending the Group of Seven summit in Mie Prefecture, the daily said.
“One senior Obama administration official, in an interview, suggested that the president could potentially deliver a speech there that evokes the nonproliferation themes of his address in Prague in 2009,” it said.
In that speech, Obama envisioned a world without nuclear weapons.
“As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act,” Obama said. “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
No sitting U.S. president has ever visited Hiroshima or Nagasaki, each of which was obliterated by U.S. atomic bombs in August 1945 in the closing days of World War II.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Hiroshima on Sunday for the two-day meeting of the Group of 7 foreign ministers, the first-ever visit there by the top U.S. diplomat.
On Monday, Kerry and his G-7 counterparts are scheduled to pay a visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
The paper said, “White House advisers are closely watching his time there as a prelude to a possible Obama trip.
“The White House is well aware of the potential for domestic criticism around a Hiroshima trip, especially in an election year. Republicans have consistently portrayed Obama’s foreign policy as feckless and weak,” it also said.
On a possible visit to Hiroshima by Obama, Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told reporters last month that “it’s under consideration” at the White House.