US President Barack Obama
will travel to Hiroshima, in what would be the first visit by a sitting US
leader to the atom-bombed city, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper says.
Washington will “arrange with Japan his visit on May 27 when the G7 leaders’ summit wraps up,” the newspaper reported on Friday, citing several anonymous US government officials.
The visit would follow US Secretary of State John Kerry’s journey last week to Hiroshima, which itself was the first-ever visit to the city by a US secretary of state.
Kerry along with some other foreign ministers visited Peace Memorial Park as well as a museum dedicated to the destruction of the city by an American atomic bomb on August 6, 1945.
About 140,000 people were killed in the bombing which was followed by another US atomic bombing on the port city of Nagasaki, killing about 70,000 people on August 9.
Obama’s visit to the city would have enormous symbolic importance, however, it would be controversial in the US if it were seen as an apology.
Meanwhile, a White House official said no decision has been made in this regard and even Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denied such a visit was being arranged.
“The schedule of the US president is a matter for the United States
to decide. The (Japanese) government will refrain from comment.”
Nonetheless, the Nikkei said that Obama will make a speech about nuclear abolition and is also considering offering a floral tribute at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park.
During his visit to Hiroshima, Kerry said that Obama wanted to travel there, adding, “I hope one day the President of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here.”