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Obama makes historic visit to Hiroshima

Obama makes historic visit to Hiroshima

Japan

Barack Obama has become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima where he laid a wreath at the site of the world’s first atomic bombing.

Obama paid tribute to the people of Hiroshima but did not apologise for the US attack on the city. At least 140,000 people died in the bombing.

Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it.

In a speech watched by survivors of the blast, the president called on humanity to learn the lessons of the past and make war less likely.

“We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry. Someday the voices will no longer be with us to bear witness, but the memory must never fade. That memory fuels our imagination. It allows us to change.’‘

‘‘Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.”

Obama met and hugged survivors of the atomic strike.

The two governments hope Obama’s tour of Hiroshima will underscore a new level of reconciliation and closer ties between the former enemies and invigorate efforts to end nuclear arms.

Barack Obama first visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum before walking to the Peace Memorial Park, accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The only western leader to have visited Hiroshima while in office was Kevin Rudd, who laid a wreath at the peace park cenotaph in 2008 when he was Australian prime minister.

Jimmy Carter visited the atomic bomb memorial in Hiroshima in 1984, after he had left office.

The highest-ranking US official to visit the site was Nancy Pelosi in 2008 when she was House speaker.