TOKYO: US President Barack Obama has told Japanese television he will not apologise for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima ahead of his landmark visit to the city this week.
The comments are the clearest yet from his administration over an issue that raises hackles in the United States and has been the subject of heated debate for decades.
Asked if an apology would be included in remarks he plans to make, he said: “No, because I think that 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, but I know as somebody who has now sat in this position for the last seven and a half years, that every leader makes very difficult decisions, particularly during war time.”
American airmen launched the world’s first atomic strike on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, killing more than 140,000 people.
Tens of thousands were killed by the fireball that the powerful nuclear blast generated, with many more succumbing to injuries or illnesses caused by radiation in the weeks, months and years afterwards.
The souther n city of Nagasaki was hit by a second bomb three days later, killing 74,000 people, in one of the final acts of World War 2.
Obama will visit Hiroshima after attending the Group of Seven summit hosted by Japan.