Asia

Barack Obama to visit Hiroshima on Japan and Vietnam trip

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Media captionNo serving US president had visited Hiroshima since it was hit by a US nuclear bomb in 1945, Gary O'Donoghue reports

Barack Obama is to visit Hiroshima this month - the first serving US president to travel to the Japanese city since it was hit by a US nuclear bomb in 1945.

The visit will be part of an Asian trip from 21-28 May that will also take in Vietnam.

The Hiroshima bombing on 6 August 1945 killed 140,000 people. Along with a second bombing on Nagasaki - it is credited with ending World War Two.

The White House said there would be no apology for the bombings.

A statement from Mr Obama's press secretary read: "The President will make an historic visit to Hiroshima with Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe to highlight his continued commitment to pursuing peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons."


The bomb that changed the world

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Image caption A mushroom cloud over Hiroshima following the explosion of an atomic bomb
  • The bomb was nicknamed "Little Boy" and was thought to have the explosive force of 20,000 tonnes of TNT
  • Colonel Paul Tibbets, a 30-year-old colonel from Illinois, led the mission to drop the atomic bomb on Japan
  • The Enola Gay, the plane which dropped the bomb, was named in tribute to Col Tibbets' mother
  • The final target was decided less than an hour before the bomb was dropped. The good weather conditions over Hiroshima sealed the city's fate
  • On detonation, the temperature at the burst-point of the bomb was several million degrees. Thousands of people on the ground were killed or injured instantly

Find out what happened in the hours before the bomb was dropped

Was it right to drop the bomb on Hiroshima?


In ruling out any apology, the president's communications adviser, Ben Rhodes, said on his Twitter page that the US would be "eternally proud of our civilian leaders and the men and women of our armed forces who served in World War II".

He said that Mr Obama would "not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future".

He said the visit would "offer an opportunity to honour the memory of all innocents who were lost during the war".

Mr Rhodes added: "The President and his team will make this visit knowing that the open recognition of history is essential to understanding our shared past, the forces that shape the world we live in today, and the future that we seek for our children and grandchildren."

Mr Obama will also take part in the G7 summit in Japan's Ise-Shima peninsula and hold bilateral talks with Mr Abe.

Before that Mr Obama will meet Vietnam's leadership and deliver a speech in the capital, Hanoi, on US-Vietnam relations.

Jimmy Carter has visited Hiroshima, but after the end of his presidency.

A US ambassador attended the annual commemoration for the first time in 2010.


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