Washington, May 11: During his historic visit to Hiroshima this month, Barack Obama would promote his vision of a nuclear weapons-free planet by becoming the first sitting US president to tour the site where America first dropped an atomic bomb in 1945, killing an estimated 140,000 people.
"The President intends the visit to send a much more forward-looking signal about his ambition for realising the goals of a planet without nuclear weapons," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday.
Obama would be the first American president to visit Hiroshima - the site of the first nuclear attack by the US on Japan - later this month. The visit is also an opportunity to highlight the remarkable transformation in the relationship between Japan and the US.
"If you would have imagined that one of our closest partners and allies in Asia was Japan just 70 years ago, it would have been very difficult to imagine, given the hostilities between our two countries. "But yet that's exactly what has occurred, based on a commitment of the leaders of our two countries to forge closer bonds. We've also seen deeper ties between our peoples. And even as we speak, there are thousands of US military service members who are stationed in Japan," Earnest said.
They operate on bases in Japan that enhance not just the national security of the US but also contribute in important ways to the national security of our Japanese allies, he said. The US and Japan also work effectively together, including through our militaries on humanitarian relief efforts, on other emergency response efforts, including the natural disaster that the Japanese people suffered as a result of the Tsunami and an ensuing crisis at the nuclear facility in Fukushima, Earnest said.
"All of this is a testament to the way that the US-Japan relationship has dramatically changed over the last 70 years and the president is certainly interested in further marking the progression of that relationship by visiting Hiroshima," he said. Obama is visiting Japan to attend the G-7 meeting. Obama's visit to Hiroshima follows that of US Ambassador to Japan and Secretary of State John Kerry.