Obama mulling visit to Hiroshima during G7 visit

Washington, April 13 (IANS) US President Barack Obama is considering a visit to Hiroshima during his visit to Japan in May for the Group of Seven summit, the White House has said.

The White House on Tuesday said the US government was exploring the first visit by an incumbent US president to Hiroshima, where the country’s forces dropped an atomic bomb in 1945, The Japan Times reported.

“This is a question about whether or not the president will visit Hiroshima that comes up regularly whenever the president makes plans to travel to Japan,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“The president will, and his team will obviously consider our options here.”

The pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons continues to be “a long-term goal” for Obama, Earnest said.

“There’s no more powerful illustration of that commitment than the city that contained the victims of the first use of that weapon,” the spokesman said.

A visit by an incumbent president to Hiroshima or Nagasaki, which was atomic-bombed by US forces in 1945, is expected to stir controversy in the US, where it could be interpreted as tantamount to an apology for the attacks, which many veterans and others see as having been necessary to get Japan to surrender in World War II.

Earnest said such concerns would not be a factor in the final decision about Obama’s possible visit to Hiroshima.

Whatever decision Obama makes “will be consistent with the president’s strong view about the bravery, courage and heroism of those Americans who fought and won World War II,” the spokesman said.

“The symbol of Hiroshima is the significant and even, in some ways, tragic ability that mankind has to wreak terrible destruction,” Earnest said.

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