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White House confirms Obama is weighing visit to Hiroshima during G-7 trip via The Japan Times

U.S. President Barack Obama is considering a visit to Hiroshima when he travels to Japan in May for the Group of Seven summit, the White House said Tuesday.

It was the first confirmation of reports that the U.S. government is exploring a first visit by a sitting American president to Hiroshima, where U.S. forces dropped an atomic bomb in 1945.

“This is a question about whether or not the president will visit Hiroshima that comes up regularly whenever the president makes plans to travel to Japan,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “The president will, and his team will obviously consider our options here.”

[…]

The pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons continues to be “a long-term goal” for Obama, Earnest said.

“There’s no more powerful illustration of that commitment than the city that contained the victims of the first use of that weapon,” the spokesman said.

A visit by an incumbent president to Hiroshima or Nagasaki, which was also atomic-bombed by U.S. forces in 1945, is expected to stir controversy in the United States, where it could be interpreted as tantamount to an apology for the attacks, which many veterans and others see as having been necessary to get Japan to surrender in World War II.

But Earnest said such concerns would not be a factor in the final decision about Obama’s possible visit to Hiroshima.

Whatever decision Obama makes “will be consistent with the president’s strong view about the bravery, courage and heroism of those Americans who fought and won World War II,” the spokesman said.

“The symbol of Hiroshima is the significant and even, in some ways, tragic ability that mankind has to wreak terrible destruction,” Earnest said.

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