Will Obama Become First Sitting US President to Visit Hiroshima?

Posted: Apr 24, 2016 2:30 PM

If reports from leading Japanese newspaper Nikkei are true, President Obama will officially become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima when he travels to Japan next month for the G7 Summit in Ise-Shima.

Sitting U.S. presidents have avoided visiting the site of the world’s first atomic bombing over concerns that doing so would symbolize an apology. If President Obama does visit, he will likely be careful that his trip doesn’t appear to be one.

According to Nikkei:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be present during the visit to the Hiroshima memorial site, according to the sources.The memorial, centered on the remains of the A-Bomb Dome, a former exhibition hall that has been preserved as a monument, commemorates the approximately 80,000 Japanese killed by the first use of an atomic weapon in war. […]

  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry became the first sitting secretary of state to pay his respects at Hiroshima earlier this month, a trip which was widely seen at the time as paving the way for a presidential visit. Kerry laid a wreath but did not bow or lower his head during his time at the memorial.

The U.S. and Japanese governments are working to arrange Obama's visit on the final day of the Group of Seven summit on May 27. The summit is to be held in Ise-Shima, which is located roughly halfway between Tokyo and Hiroshima.

But Obama refused to say whether he’d visit the Japanese city on Friday during a news conference in London, telling reporters to wait until he goes to Asia before asking him questions about Asia. The White House told Politico on Friday that a decision hasn’t been reached yet.

Meanwhile, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the reports about Obama’s visit are “not true.”