About 71 years after the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, President Obama visited the site and placed a wreath before the cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. It is the first visit by a “sitting U.S. President.” Both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Obama delivered speeches, and Obama spoke out against nuclear weapons.
According to The Washington Post, Japanese citizens “longed” for a U.S. president to publicly recognize those lost when nuclear bombs were dropped on Japan, first in Hiroshima and three days later on Nagasaki. An estimated 140,000 and 80,000 were killed in the bombings. The majority were civilians.
In his speech, President Obama said, “The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well…the memory of the morning of August 6, 1945 must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change.”
The president denounced nuclear weapons and spoke of the terror faced by children, men, and women that day in Hiroshima. He said nations should “ultimately eliminate” nuclear weapons. At a visit to a Marine Corps Air Station about an hour away from Hiroshima, he spoke to Japanese and American soldiers about working for “peace and security” so no nation would feel they needed the destructive weapons.
President Obama said in his speech, “That is the future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not for the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”
The president also spoke about the progress that has been made, from forming an international organization that works to prevent wars to the development of a positive relationship between Japan and America. He said, “The United States and Japan forged not only an alliance, but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war.”