On May 10, the White House announced that President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima when he visits Japan to attend his final G7 Summit in Ise-Shima. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will accompany Obama on his visit to Hiroshima.
Since Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Peace Memorial Park and Museum during his visit to Hiroshima for the G7 foreign ministerial meeting in April, the prospect for Obama’s visit to Hiroshima has been receiving renewed attention.
The question of whether a sitting U.S. president should visit Hiroshima is extremely politically sensitive. On the one hand, Obama’s visit would demonstrate his enduing personal commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world, which he proudly advocated in his speech in Prague in April 2009. On the other hand, a presidential visit could reopen the discussion within the United States regarding whether the use of atomic bomb—not only on Hiroshima but also on Nagasaki—was justified, given the massive civilian casualties. As Jennifer Lind articulates in her article in Foreign Affairs on April 8, 2016, a strong case can be made both why Obama should and why he should not visit Hiroshima as a sitting U.S. president.
Read the full article here.