United States Secretary of States, John Kerry said Monday he was “deeply moved” by his unprecedented visit to the Hiroshima atomic bomb memorial — and urged President Barack Obama also to make the trip.
The US secretary of state, who was joined by other G7 foreign ministers, is the highest-ranking administration official to pay respects at the spot where American planes launched the first-ever nuclear attack more than seven decades ago.
Washington officials say Obama is considering a trip to Hiroshima late next month around the time of a Group of Seven summit, which is being held in another part of Japan.
An Obama visit would have huge symbolic importance as the first to Hiroshima by a sitting US president.
“I want to express on a personal level how deeply moved I am” to be the first US secretary of state to visit Hiroshima, Kerry told reporters Monday as he and his G7 counterparts wrapped up two days of talks.
A museum at the memorial site is a “gut-wrenching display that tugs at all your sensibilities as a human being”, Kerry said.
About 140,000 people died from the Hiroshima blast on August 6, 1945, or later from severe radiation exposure. The city, a key military installation during the war, was flattened by the massive detonation. The atomic bombing of Nagasaki followed three days later, killing some 74,000 people.
Japan surrendered within a week to end World War II. “Everyone should visit Hiroshima, and everyone means everyone,” Kerry said.
“I hope one day the president of the United States will be among ‘the everyone’ who is able to come here.” But Kerry declined to comment on the likelihood of an Obama visit. “Whether or not he can come as president, I don’t know,” he said. “That is subject to a very full and complicated schedule that the president has to plan out way ahead of time.”