Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, during his trip to Asia scheduled from May 21-28.
On the final day of the summit in Japan, Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park near the spot where a U.S. warplane dropped an atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945.
The president will give a speech at the memorial park.
The bombs didn’t just bring an end to World War II — they also destroyed any cordiality between America and Japan for quite some time to come.
Things started to cool down when Japan signed a peace treaty with the U.S. and other nations in 1951.
But the death and devastation caused by the atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain hanging like a dark cloud over relations between the two countries.
Keeping it all in mind, the trip has significant importance in terms of foreign relations between the two countries. But don't expect the tip to include an apology for the bombings.
Even though many American leaders, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, believed the use of the atomic bomb against Hiroshima was a mistake and that “…it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing,” there will be no apologies given.
Obama's communications adviser, Ben Rhodes, writes that the U.S. would be "eternally proud of our civilian leaders and the men and women of our armed forces who served in World War II," and that the president 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.”
However, the visit, Rhodes says, will "offer an opportunity to honor the memory of all innocents who were lost during the war.”
"The president will make an historic visit to Hiroshima with Prime Minister Abe to highlight his continued commitment to pursuing peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons," the statement from President Obama's press secretary reads.
While speaking to reporters, Abe 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," he added.
Both Obama and Abe have visited each other’s countries before but for an American president to visit Hiroshima — a place of such strategic significance — is something else entirely.
True, there will be no apologies. But apologies are not always necessary. If the intent of the visit is to pay respect and form solid and progressive future relations, it goes beyond any words of regret and promises of atonement.