Almost 71 years after the first atomic bomb was deployed on the Japanese city Hiroshima, Obama visited the city to pay his respects to the victims and to call for an end to nuclear weapons.
Obama’s visit to Hiroshima is the first visit by a sitting U.S. president. Many people in Japan have wanted an American leader to acknowledge the suffering of the approximately 140,000 killed during the bombing on August 6, 1945. Three days later, the United States deployed the second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki, killing a total of 80,000.
Obama spoke after laying a wreath on the museum’s cenotaph, standing alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In his speech, he stressed that the United States and Japan had forged “not only an alliance, but a friendship,” and he emphasized that there is a need for a “moral evolution.”
After his speech, he met with survivors of the bombing. Before the event, Sunao Tsuboi, a survivor, said he “never imagined (the President) would come while I am alive. We do not need apologies.” He also embraced Shigeaki Mori, a 79-year-old survivor who worked for 40 years to gain official recognition of the 12 Americans killed in the bombing.
“This is the future we can choose. A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening.”