Obama becomes first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">U.S. President Barack Obama stands after laying a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, on May 27, 2016. (Shuji Kajiyama&#47;AP Photo)</span></div>
President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site where at least 140,000 people died from an atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.

The president laid a wreath on a monument at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park, where he also met with survivors and gave a speech.



"Death fell from the sky and the world was changed," Obama said. "The flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself."

Obama asked listeners to imagine what the city was like on the day the bomb fell. He then gave a plea that the world try to rid itself of nuclear weapons.

"Among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them," he said.

Survivors of the attacks, 91-year-old Sunao Tsuboi and 79-year-old Shigeaki Mori, met and spoke with the president. Tsuboi said he was moved by how closely the president listened to him. Mori, a historian who is behind a monument dedicated to the American prisoners of war who died that day, embraced Obama.

U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Shigeaki Mori, an atomic bomb survivor, historian and creator of the memorial for American WWII POWs killed at Hiroshima.


While supporters of the visit see it as an overdue gesture of peace, critics feared it would be viewed as an apology for an action that was needed to end the war. Three days after the first bombing, an estimated 70,000 people were killed when a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. On August 15, 1945, World War II ended when Japan announced its surrender.

Obama was joined Friday by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also spoke of peace. Obama concluded his remarks by saying that peace is worth protecting.

"That is the future we can choose. A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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