Obama to Make a Historic Visit to Hiroshima

President Obama speaks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in late March. President Obama speaks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in late March. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Barack Obama will become the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima, the Japanese city whose targeting by the U.S. with an atomic bomb in 1945 precipitated Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Here’s an excerpt from a White House statement issued Tuesday:

[T]he President will make an historic visit to Hiroshima with Prime Minister Abe to highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

The visit is part of Obama’s May 21-28 trip to Vietnam and Japan.

Obama would be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city. Richard Nixon visited in 1964, but that was before he entered the White House. Jimmy Carter did so in 1984, after he’d left office.

Last month John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, became the highest-ranking American official to visit Hiroshima. As my colleague Matt Vasilogambros noted during that visit:

While Kerry’s visit is a recognition of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, he did not apologize for the act. He said in Hiroshima on Monday, the visit was “not about the past,” but looking ahead to a possibly nuclear-free world—even though the U.S. has one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world.

The U.S. dropped an atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Three days later, it dropped another device, “Fat Man,” on Nagasaki. The attacks killed more than 120,000 people, and remain the only times nuclear weapons have been used in combat.

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