US President Barack Obama has asserted that he will not apologise for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during the World War II. Obama is set to visit Japan for the G7 summit and he will visit Hiroshima on 27 May, accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He will be the first sitting American president to visit Japan’s Hiroshima, the first city in the history of the world to have faced a nuclear attack.
Obama on Sunday said his visit to Hiroshima, the first city to suffer an atomic bombing, would emphasise friendly ties between Japan and the US.
In an interview with Japanese national broadcaster NHK, Obama said leaders often have to make hard choices during times of conflict and no apologies would be included in the statement the president is expected to make in the western Japanese city.
“It’s important to recognise that in the midst of war, leaders make all kinds of decisions, it’s a job of historians to ask questions and examine them,” Obama said.
“But I know, as somebody who’s now sat in this position for the last seven and half years, that every leader makes very difficult decisions, particularly during wartime.”
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August, 1945 killed thousands instantly and about 140,000 by the end of the year.
Japanese city Nagasaki was hit three days after on 9 August, forcing Japan to surrender six days later.
A majority of Americans see the bombings as having been necessary to end the war and save US and Japanese lives, although many historians question that view.
According to a poll released on 20 May, the vast majority of Americans are against any form of apology for the use of the atomic bomb in World War II.
Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 partly for his stance on nuclear non-proliferation, said he felt that emphasis needed to be placed on the current relationship between Washington and Tokyo.
“I think it is also a happy story about how former adversaries came together to become one of the closest partnerships and closest allies in the world,” he said.
Critics said that by not apologising, Obama will allow Japan to stick to the narrative that paints it as a victim.
The Abe administration has affirmed past government apologies for Japanese actions during the war, but asserts that future generations should not have to apologise for the actions of their forebears.
“Since I only have a few months left in the office, I thought it was a good time for me to reflect on the nature of war. Part of my goal is to recognise that innocent people caught in war can suffer tremendously,” he said.