The Presidential Path to Hiroshima

An Obama Apology to Japan?

A young girl folds her hands in prayer as Japanese paper lanterns are floated down Motoyasu River, near ground zero, for the atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima August 6, 2002. Eriko Sugita / Reuters

In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama made a speech in Prague in which he advocated “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Since then, many Japanese have wondered whether Obama might become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima. In May, he will travel to Japan to attend the G-7 summit in Ise-Shima, which has fueled speculation that he might visit the atomic-bombing site during his trip. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Japan this month for the G-7 foreign ministers’ meetings, will visit Hiroshima along with the other delegates. Does this historic visit by a U.S. secretary of state herald an Obama visit to follow? Although it’s just a short train ride from Ise-Shima, a presidential visit to Hiroshima would be a complex and controversial journey.

Some commentators argue that a U.S. reckoning with the atomic

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