Obama to visit Hiroshima, won't apologize for World War II bombing

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President Obama to Make Historic Visit to Hiroshima

WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) - Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima in Japan later this month, but he will not apologize for the United States' dropping of an atomic bomb on the city in World War Two, the White House said on Tuesday.

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize early in his presidency in 2009 in part for his commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, Obama on May 27 will visit the site of the world's first nuclear bomb attack with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

With the end of his last term in office approaching in January 2017, Obama will "highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," the White House said in a statement.

"He will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future," U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wrote in a separate blog.

Look back at the effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima:

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Looking back: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima
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Obama to visit Hiroshima, won't apologize for World War II bombing
FILE - In this Sept. 4, 1945 file photo, the remains of a factory are seen, upper left, in the southern Japanese city of Nagasaki, gutted by the Aug. 9 atomic bombing. On two days in August 1945, U.S. planes dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki, the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used. Their destructive power was unprecedented, incinerating buildings and people, and leaving lifelong scars on survivors, not just physical but also psychological, and on the cities themselves. Days later, World War II was over. (AP Photo/File)
FILE- In this Sept. 5, 1945, file photo, the skeleton of a Catholic Church, foreground, and an unidentified building, center, are all that remaining the blast center area after the atomic bomb of Hiroshima, Japan. On two days in August 1945, U.S. planes dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki, the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used. Their destructive power was unprecedented, incinerating buildings and people, and leaving lifelong scars on survivors, not just physical but also psychological, and on the cities themselves. Days later, World War II was over. (AP Photo, File)
This desolated area, with only some buildings standing here and there is what was left of Hiroshima, Japan, Sept. 3, 1945 after the first atomic bomb was dropped. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Aug. 9, 1945 file photo, a mushroom cloud rises moments after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, southern Japan. On two days in August 1945, U.S. planes dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki, the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used. Their destructive power was unprecedented, incinerating buildings and people, and leaving lifelong scars on survivors, not just physical but also psychological, and on the cities themselves. Days later, World War II was over. (AP Photo/File)
FILE- In this Aug. 6, 1945, file photo, smoke rises around 20,000 feet above Hiroshima, Japan, after the first atomic bomb was dropped. On two days in August 1945, U.S. planes dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki, the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used. Their destructive power was unprecedented, incinerating buildings and people, and leaving lifelong scars on survivors, not just physical but also psychological, and on the cities themselves. Days later, World War II was over. (AP Photo, File)
FILE- In this Aug. 6, 1945, file photo, aboard the cruiser Augusta, President Harry S. Truman, with a radio at hand, reads reports of the first atomic bomb raid on Japan, while en route home from the Potsdam conference. On two days in August 1945, U.S. planes dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki, the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used. Their destructive power was unprecedented, incinerating buildings and people, and leaving lifelong scars on survivors, not just physical but also psychological, and on the cities themselves. Days later, World War II was over. (AP Photo, File)
FILE- In this Aug. 6, 1945, file photo, survivors of the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare are seen as they await emergency medical treatment in Hiroshima, Japan. On two days in August 1945, U.S. planes dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki, the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used. Their destructive power was unprecedented, incinerating buildings and people, and leaving lifelong scars on survivors, not just physical but also psychological, and on the cities themselves. Days later, World War II was over. (AP Photo, File)
FILE- In this Aug. 6, 1945, file photo, shortly after the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare was dropped by the United States over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, survivors are seen as they receive emergency treatment by military medics. On two days in August 1945, U.S. planes dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima, one on Nagasaki, the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used. Their destructive power was unprecedented, incinerating buildings and people, and leaving lifelong scars on survivors, not just physical but also psychological, and on the cities themselves. Days later, World War II was over. (AP Photo, File)
Hiroshima, first enemy city to feel the American atomic bomb, in this reconnaissance view made before the attack on August 6, 19456. The city of 318,000 populations is on the south-western end of Honshu, one of the main Jap home islands. Large guns, tanks, machine and aircraft parts were reported manufactured there. (AP Photo)
Ikimi Kikkawa shows keloid scars following the healing of burns caused by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of the second World War. She was seen at the Red Cross hospital there, June 5, 1947. (AP Photo)
An Allied war correspondent stands amid the ruins of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945, just weeks after the city was leveled by an atomic bomb. (AP Photo)
Photo from the U.S. Army Signal Corps showing the devastation left after the first atomic bomb was droppped on Hiroshima on August 6 1945. No precise date given for the photo which was taken some time not long after the explosion. (AP PHOTO)
An aerial view of Hiroshima, some time after the atom bomb was dropped on this Japanese city. (AP Photo)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a victim of the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare is seen in September 1945, at the Ujina Branch of the First Army Hospital in Hiroshima, Japan. The thermic rays emitted by the explosion burned the pattern of this woman's kimono upon her back. (AP Photo/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
This photo-diagram, based on diagram issued by Army Air Force on August 9, 1945, locates areas damaged in Japanese homeland city of Hiroshima by first atomic bomb dropped by U.S. Army Air Forces. Large circle is drawn on diameter of 19,000 feet. Shaded areas indicate devastates sectors, according to information based on intelligence reports. Key to numbers, with percentage of total destruction where available: 1- Army Transport Base -25 percent, 2- Army Ordnance Depot,3- Army Food Depot-35 percent,4- Army Clothing Depot -85 percent, 5- E. Hiroshima RR Station -30 percent, 6- Unidentified Industry -90 percent, 7- Sumitomo Rayon Plant -25 percent, 8- Kinkwa Rayon Mill -10 percent, 9- Teikoku Textile Mill-100 percent, 10- Power Plant -?, 12- Electric RR power Station -100 percent, 13- Electric Power Generator-100 percent, 14- Telephone Company-100 percent, 15- Gas Works -100 percent, 16- Hiroshima RR Station -100 percent, 17- Unidentified RR Station-100 percent, 18- Bridge, debris loaded, intact, 19- Bridge, one-fourth missing, 20- Large bridge, shattered, intact, 21- Bridge, large hole, west side, 22- Bridge, intact, banks caved in, 23- Bridge, intact, debris covered, 24- Both bridges intact, 25- Bridge, destroyed, 26- Bridge, severely damaged, 27-Bridge destroyed, 28-Bridge, shattered, inoperative, 29- Bridge, intact, slight damage, 30- Bridge, intact, severely damaged. (AP Photo)
The landscape of Hiroshima, Japan, shows widespread rubble and debris in an aerial view Sept. 5, 1945, one month after the atomic bomb was dropped. The atomic blast of Aug. 6, 1945, killed an estimated 140,000 people by the end of 1945. (AP Photo/Max Desfor)
The skeleton of a Catholic Church, foreground, and an unidentified building, centre, are all that remaining the blast centre area after the atomic bomb of Hiroshima, Japan on August 5. This is the first ground picture of atomic bomb damage in Hiroshima, on Sept. 5, 1945. (AP Photo)
An allied correspondent examines the remains of what was once a barber shop in Hiroshima, Sept. 8, 1945, a little over a month after the atomic bomb was dropped over this Japanese city. Tiled sink is all that remains to identify the destroyed business. (AP Photo)
The atomic bomb attack on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, left this mass of twisted steel and this gutted building standing in acres of desolation, Sept. 8, 1945. (AP Photo
Skeletons of trees dominate the landscape in Hiroshima, Sept. 8, 1945, left in ruins after the world's first atomic bomb attack. Domei News agency reported today that 126,000 were killed in the attack on this once industrial city. (AP Photo
Two people walk on a cleared path through the destruction resulting from the Aug. 6 detonation of the first atomic bomb, Sept. 8, 1945. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force)
A Japanese man and woman, victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, sit in a damaged bank building converted into a hospital near the centre of the town in Japan on Oct. 6, 1945. The woman’s face is severely scarred by the tremendous heat generated by the explosion. The burns show a pronounced reddish cast. (AP Photo)
A Japanese woman and her child casualties in the atom raid in Hiroshima, lie on a blanket on the floor of a damaged bank building converted into a hospital and located near the centre of the devastated town, in Japan, on Oct. 6, 1945. (AP Photo)
This photo shows the total destruction of the city of Hiroshima, Japan, on April 1, 1946. The atomic bomb known as "Little Boy" was dropped over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 during World War II from the U.S. AAF Superfortress bomber plane called "Enola Gay." (AP Photo)
Tetsu Terada, city chairman of Hiroshima participates in ground-breaking ceremony on August 16, 1947, as the city plants memorial trees in the area where thousands died in the atom-bombing of the city, August 6, 1945. Ceremony was part of a three-day peace festival marking second anniversary of the bombing. (AP Photo/Charles Gorry)
Ninoshima Island off Hiroshima, Japan, where bodies of the atomic bomb blast in 1945 were buried, Oct. 19, 1947. (AP Photo/Charles P. Gorry)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: Hiroshima after the dropping of the atom bomb in August 1945. USAF photograph. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: Survivors of the explosion of the Atom bomb at Hiroshima 1945 suffering the effects of radiation. ICRC photograph. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
World War II, after the explosion of the atom bomb in August 1945, Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
The concrete section was burnt and melted, leaving the steel frame exposed against the sky when the a-bomb exploded above the dome on August 6, 1945. The dome which was a majestic and beautiful piece of architecture before the bombardment is the only atomic-bombed building in the city allowed to stand. The dome was reinforced by Japanese architectural specialists this year to be preserved as a grim reminder of that tragic moment. In the background a stainless steel Buddhist pagoda, a memorial for the a-bomb victims built in 1966, can be seen on August 6, 1970. The pagoda enshrines Buddha’s ashes dedicated by Ceylonese Buddhist association. (AP Photo)
World War II, after the explosion of the atom bomb in August 1945, Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
World War II, firestorms after the explosion of the atom bomb in August 1945, Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
1945: Atomic bomb damage at Hiroshima with a burnt out fire engine amidst the rubble. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
World War II, Human shadow on bank steps, in Hiroshima after the explosion of the atom bomb in August 1945, Japan. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
World War II, after the explosion of the atom bomb in August 1945 Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
World War II, shadow of a tap on a pipeline at Hiroshima after the explosion of the atom bomb in August 1945, Japan. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
6th August 1945: The twisted wreckage of a theatre, located 800 metres from the epicentre of the atomic explosion at Hiroshima. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN: This September 1945 file picture shows the remaining of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industry Promotion Building, known as the Atomic-Bomb Dome, which was later preserved as a monument. (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images)
View of Hiroshima city on August 6, 1970. (AP Photo)
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 26: Atomic Bomb Dome stands among fallen autumn leaves at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on November 26, 2014 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images)
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The visit comes as part of a May 20-28 swing through Asia, which will include a Group of Seven summit in Japan and a visit to Vietnam. It will be the 10th trip to the region for Obama, who has tried to make a foreign policy "pivot" toward Asia.

On the final day of the summit in Japan, Obama and Abe will visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park near the spot where a U.S. warplane dropped an atomic bomb 71 years ago at the end of World War Two. There have been concerns that a U.S. presidential visit would be controversial in the United States if it were seen as an apology.

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The bomb dropped on Aug. 6, 1945 killed thousands of people instantly and about 140,000 by the end of that year. Another was dropped on the city of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, and Japan surrendered six days later.

The majority of Americans view the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as justified to end the war and save U.S lives, while most Japanese see it as unjustified.

Abe, speaking to reporters in Tokyo, said he hoped "to turn this into an opportunity for the U.S. and Japan to together pay tribute to the memories of the victims" of the nuclear bombing.

"President Obama visiting Hiroshima and expressing toward the world the reality of the impact of nuclear radiation will contribute greatly to establishing a world without nuclear arms," Abe added.

After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hiroshima last month, survivors of the bombing and other residents said that if Obama visits, they hope for progress in ridding the world of nuclear weapons, rather than an apology.

Kerry toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum, calling the museum's haunting displays "gut-wrenching." The displays include photographs of badly burned victims, the tattered and stained clothes they wore and statues depicting them with flesh melting from their limbs.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy also recently traveled to the city, according to Rhodes, adding that it was "the appropriate moment" Obama to visit.

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