It’s another first for President Barack Obama in his final year of office as the US President. On Friday afternoon, President Obama became the first US President to visit the Hiroshima bombing site in Japan.
Obama, along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, lay wreath at Hiroshima nuclear memorial while paying tribute to victims of the world’s first nuclear attack.
“71 years ago, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” the President said.
The bomb “demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself…Why did we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in the not so distant past… We come to mourn the dead,” said a sombre Obama.
“Their souls speak to us, they ask us to look inward, take stock of who we are,” he added.
The US President also called for a world without nuclear arms in his speech.
“Technological progress without equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of the atom requires a moral revolution as well…This is why we come to this place, 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,” said Obama.
Ahead of Obama’s visit, a debate was doing the rounds with critics accusing both sides of World War, having selective memories and pointing to paradoxes in policies relying on nuclear deterrence while calling for an end to atomic arms.
Obama had earlier said he would honour all who died in World War II but would not apologize for the bombing.
The city of Nagasaki was hit by a second nuclear bomb on Aug. 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 whereas most Japanese believe it was unjustified.
(With inputs from agencies)