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Most Americans disapprove of bombing Hiroshima—except white men

Barack Obama is visiting Hiroshima, Japan, the site of a devastating US atomic bombing in 1945. He is the first sitting US president to do so. “Seventy-one years ago on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” he said Friday (May 27), calling for a “world without nuclear weapons,” although he did not apologize for the nuclear attack.

Back home, support for the World War Two decision is dropping. Overall, Americans are essentially split over the historic decision, with 43% approving the atomic bomb drop, and 44% disapproving, a significant shift from just a decade ago, according to a new CBS poll.

The groups staunchest in their support of the bombings are men, whites, Republicans and older Americans, those more likely to remember the events or their immediate aftermath.

The bombed dropped on Hiroshima instantly killed between 60,000 and 80,000 people, and a second bomb dropped on the city of Nagasaki killed about 40,000. Tens of thousands more died as a result of radiation.

Then-president Harry Truman and his advisers defended the choice as a necessary measure to end war with Japan, and forestall a potential costly US invasion. Critics say that the devastation could have been avoided, and Japan could have been otherwise forced to surrender.

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