ISE-SHIMA: Barack Obama made history on Friday, making the first ever visit by a sitting US president to Hiroshima, where he emphathised with the victims of atomic bombing but left the city reduced to rubble by an American bomber almost 71 years ago without offering an apology.
“Years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” Obama said at the city where 140,000 perished in the first ever use of nuclear bomb on August 6, 1945.
“A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself,” the commander-in-chief of US armed forces said about the event, which still remains in the realms of unsettling history and unresolved debate.
As expected, the Nobel peace prize winner called for an end to nuclear weapons, something he tried hard during his Presidency with some amount of success.
Writing in the guest book at the Hiroshima peace park, he urged for summoning the courage to “spread peace and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.”
Many visitors swar med around the Hiroshima park to meet Obama, who was accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and senior officials such as US national security adviser Susan Rice. Obama paid tribute to the dead at the cenotaph in the park.
“Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become,” Obama said during his 20-minute speech.
“It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart. Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man. Our early ancestors having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood, used these tools not just for hunting but against their own kind”, he said. “And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.”
Days after the Hiroshima attack, a second US atomic bomb in Nagasaki killed a total of 80,000 which led to the surrender of Japan and end of second world war.