President Obama Becomes First Sitting President to Visit Hiroshima

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As one of his final major international acts, President Barack Obama will make a historical visit to Hiroshima as part of a larger trip to Vietnam and Japan later this month.

The visit is the result of a larger effort by the Obama administration to continue pushing for decreased stockpiling of nuclear weapons and increased world peace and security.

The event will mark Obama as the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city that became infamous as both a target of the United States’ World War II atomic bomb campaign and as the inciting event for Japan’s eventual surrender.

The White House issued a statement earlier today regarding the President’s plans, citing that Obama will be accompanied by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinz? Abe during his visit. The Commander-in-Chief’s stop in the historic city will occur sometime between May 21 and May 28, nearly a month after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry became the highest-ranking American official to appear there.

The intention of Kerry’s visit was only slightly different than that of President Obama’s, as the Secretary of State aimed to recognize the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. While giving a public statement, Kerry did not apologize for the United States’ use of the bombs—a decision that killed more than 120,000 people and to this day is the only time nuclear weapons were used for combat. He did, however, state that his trip was “not about the past,” but rather looking toward a world free of nuclear weaponry. It is worth noting that the U.S. currently holds the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world.

Although Obama is the western nation’s first sitting president to visit Hiroshima, Richard Nixon also made an appearance in the city back in 1964 before entering office, in addition to a visit by Jimmy Carter’s in 1984 after his presidency had ended.

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