71 Years Ago, Death Fell From the Sky and Changed the World: Obama at Hiroshima

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Barack Obama lays a wreath at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. (AP Photo)
Barack Obama lays a wreath at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. (AP Photo)

On historic visit to the site of first nuclear attack in history, US President refuses to apologize for the US nuclear strike on Japan. A majority of Americans see the bombings as having been necessary to end the war and save lives. Most Japanese believe they were unjustified.

Liu Chuen Chen

Reuters_logoHIROSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) — Barack Obama, the first incumbent US president to visit Hiroshima, laid a wreath at the site of the world’s first atomic bombing on Friday, a symbolic gesture that Tokyo and Washington hope will highlight their alliance and breathe life into efforts to abolish nuclear arms.

“We come to ponder the terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past,” Obama said after laying a wreath at a peace memorial. “We come to mourn the dead,” he added.

The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, killed thousands of people instantly and some 140,000 by the year’s end. The city of Nagasaki was hit by a second bomb on August 9, 1945 and Japan surrendered three days later.

A majority of Americans see the bombings as having been necessary to end the war and save lives. Most Japanese believe they were unjustified.

Barack Obama (right)

Barack Obama (right) meets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after laying wreaths at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. (AP Photo)

OBAMA’S VISIT STIRS DEBATE

Critics are accusing both sides of having selective memories and pointing to paradoxes in policies relying on nuclear deterrence while calling for an end to atomic arms.

The two governments hope Obama’s tour of Hiroshima will highlight a new level of reconciliation and tighter ties between the former enemies.

Aides say Obama’s main goal in Hiroshima, where he will lay a wreath at a peace memorial, is to showcase his nuclear disarmament agenda, for which he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

OBAMA WON’T APOLOGIZE

Obama has said he will honor all who died in World War Two but will not apologize for the bombing. The city of Nagasaki was hit by a second nuclear bomb on August 9, 1945, and Japan surrendered six days later.

A majority of Americans see the bombings as having been necessary to end the war and save lives, although some historians question that view. Most Japanese believe they were unjustified.

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