U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, later this month and become the first sitting U.S. president to do so since World War II, but will not offer an apology for the United States’ use of an atomic bomb on the city, the White House said on Tuesday.
The May 27 visit to the site alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instead aims “to highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” the White House said in a statement.
“He will 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,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wrote in a separate blog.
Obama’s visit comes as part of a visit May 20-28 to Japan, to attend a Group of Seven summit, as well as to Vietnam, his 10th to the region that has played a large role in the president’s strategic “pivot” toward Asia.
A U.S. warplane dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima 71 years ago at the end of World War II, and there have been concerns that a U.S. presidential visit would be controversial in the United States if it were seen as an apology.
The bomb dropped on Aug. 6, 1945, killed thousands of people instantly and about 140,000 by the end of that year. A second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, and Japan surrendered six days later.