Obama's Visit to Hiroshima
Story By: Fiona Cho Editor: Paul Kim Web Designer: Li June Choi
President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima on May 27th will mark the first time a sitting American president has visited the site of the nuclear bomb dropping.
After much heated debate, the White House has finally agreed upon this decision for numerous different reasons. This visit not only strengthens the alliance between President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but also takes a step forward in supporting Obama’s major cause, the disarmament of nuclear weapons. While Obama will not be giving an apology or bringing up the decision to use the atomic bomb, he will instead focus on looking towards the future of atomic bombs and other nuclear weapons.
This visit comes amidst constant threats from North Korea, with alleged reports of a nuclear and satellite development. Due to these tensions, some are against Obama’s visit, arguing that it is too risky embark upon such a journey, especially when he has implicitly supported the use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the past. That being said, President Obama is definitely treading on delicate ground here.
Most people, however, are supportive of this trip. Hiroshima survivor Keiko Ogura, who was a schoolgirl when the bombing occurred, hopes that “Obama and other G7 leaders come here and change their minds about possessing nuclear weapons,” expressing enthusiasm for future visits. The general idea here seems to be that many Japanese people, as well as other historians and politicians, want people to simply be aware of the horrors of the tragedy, as the awareness causes the perspective of looking at the bombing to seem much more horrific, creating a stronger will to advocate for nuclear nonproliferation and make sure something like Hiroshima never happens again.
What President Obama will actually do in the trip itself is one of large speculation. It has already been established that he will visit the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, a 30-acre area that consists of a devastated exhibition hall almost directly along the site of the actual bombing and a museum containing evidence of destruction. With victims’ narratives of the incident and sickening details of the damage and injuries suffered, it is almost guaranteed that the visit will be an emotional one. Many are looking forward to the reactions Obama might have when looking at the heart-wrenching artifacts.
Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, visited in 1984 (after leaving office), Nancy Pelosi, a House Speaker, visited in 2008, and Ambassador Kennedy visited last year, but Obama’s visit is something different altogether. Fingers are crossed that the trip goes well enough and provides a learning experience for everyone, especially President Obama himself.