Skip to navigationSkip to content
POLITICS OF HISTORY

Obama will visit Hiroshima, but won’t “revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb”

AP Photo/Koji Sasahara
A Hiroshima memorial celebration.
  • Hanna Kozlowska
By Hanna Kozlowska

Investigative reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

After the G-7 summit concludes in Japan this month, Barack Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, which was devastated by a US atomic bomb during World War II.

Following earlier visits to the city by ambassador Caroline Kennedy and secretary of state John Kerry, Obama will tour the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a monument to the victims of the 1945 bombing, and reflect on the significance of the site. He will not, however “revisit” the decision to use atomic weapons in Japan, deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote in a post on Medium.

The President’s time in Hiroshima also will reaffirm America’s longstanding commitment — and the President’s personal commitment — to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. As the President has said, the United States has a special responsibility to continue to lead in pursuit of that objective as we are the only nation to have used a nuclear weapon.

Rhodes emphasized that Obama will not apologize for the US decision, writing that the US will be “eternally proud” of its civilian leaders (presumably then-president Harry Truman, who authorized the bombing) and the men and women of the armed forces who served in the war “for their sacrifice at a time of maximum peril to our country and our world.” Rhodes writes: “Their cause was just, and we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude, which the President will again commemorate shortly after the visit on Memorial Day.”

The New York Times reports that the visit was intensely debated within the White House, which wanted to avoid even the slightest suggestion that Obama was making amends for US actions during World War II.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.