HIROSHIMA, Japan—President Joe Biden has no plans to issue an apology on behalf of the United States for the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II, according to the White House.
Biden arrived in Hiroshima on May 18 for the Group of Seven (G-7) summit, becoming the second sitting U.S. president after Barack Obama to visit the western Japanese city.
Reporters have asked the White House several times in recent weeks whether the president will issue an apology statement while there.
When asked about the apology, national security adviser Jake Sullivan replied, “No.”
“The president won’t be making a statement at the Peace Memorial Park. He’ll be participating with the other G7 leaders in a wreath-laying and a few other events,” Sullivan told reporters on May 17 aboard Air Force One on the way to Japan.
“But this is not, from his perspective, a bilateral moment. This is him, as one of the G7 leaders, coming to pay respects both for history but also respects to Prime Minister [Fumio] Kishida, who of course is from Hiroshima.”
On the first day of the summit, Biden and other G-7 leaders will visit Peace Memorial Park and meet with the survivors of the atomic bomb that leveled the city 78 years ago.
During World War II, an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.
The explosion is believed to have killed 80,000 people directly, and radioactive exposure claimed tens of thousands of additional lives.
A second B-29 detonated another atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki three days later, killing an estimated 40,000 people.
Shortly after the bombings, Japanese Emperor Hirohito declared unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address, stating that “the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to damage is indeed incalculable.”
The U.S. government has never apologized for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.
In 2016, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima since 1945. Obama toured the memorial park with then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. During his visit, he delivered a speech and hugged Shigeaki Mori, a survivor of the atomic bombings, known in Japan as “hibakusha.”
“Someday, the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, must never fade.
“That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change,” Obama said in his remarks, calling for “a world without nuclear weapons.”
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also known as the A-Bomb Dome, was the only structure that remained standing in the area where the atomic bomb exploded. The building, located on the Motoyasu River’s bank, was built in 1914 with the high engineering standards of the period and used as an exhibition hall to display the products of local manufacturers.
Kishida chose Hiroshima as the G-7 venue this year as a symbolic opportunity to call for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.
This year’s summit is expected to highlight Hiroshima’s history and attempt to send a strong message to the rest of the world, particularly Russia, about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
“Kishida is from Hiroshima and believes deeply in the disarmament agenda. He was Obama’s tour guide when he visited with Abe to Hiroshima in 2016,” Christopher Johnstone, senior adviser and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said during a press briefing.
Hence, Kishida sees the G7 meeting as a rare opportunity to demonstrate some leadership in light of the war in Ukraine and growing Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific, he added.
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