Obama looks to Hiroshima visit; Abe won't go to Pearl Harbor

President Barack Obama said today he plans to use his historic visit to Hiroshima with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reflect on the suffering of war and the need to take steps to prevent it.

PTI| Last Updated: May 25, 2016, 23:31 PM IST

Shima: President Barack Obama said today he plans to use his historic visit to Hiroshima with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reflect on the suffering of war and the need to take steps to prevent it.

Abe said he had no plans to reciprocate Obama's gesture by paying his own visit to Pearl Harbor.

Obama's opened his trip to Japan with much intrigue about his upcoming stop in the city where the US dropped the first atomic bomb. But that first-ever visit by a sitting American president was caught up in the controversy in Japan over the recent arrest of a former Marine in connection with the murder of a Japanese woman in Okinawa.

Abe ripped into Obama while demanding US steps to prevent further incidents. Obama told Abe that the US would support having the suspect prosecuted through Japan's legal system.

Obama's comments on Hiroshima after meeting with Abe offered a preview of the approach he will try to take at the site of the US attack on August 6, 1945, that killed 140,000 people.

The White House has ruled out an apology by the president for the atomic bombing, but the visit is being viewed by Japanese citizens as a conciliatory gesture.

"One of the things I hope to reflect on when I'm at Hiroshima and certainly something I reflected on when I was in Vietnam was just a reminder that war involves suffering," Obama said after arriving from Vietnam. "We should always do what we can to prevent it."

But he added: "It's important for us to act on occasion in order to make sure that the American people are protected." Abe said he "wholeheartedly" welcomed Obama's decision, adding that he was convinced that the joint visit would create strong momentum toward global denuclearization.

At the same time, Abe said he had "no specific plans" to visit Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Some have called for such a trip as a sign of Japan's acknowledgement of its wartime actions.

The surprise attack by the Japanese military on December 7, 1941, killed more than 2,400 people, wounded scores and led the United States' entry into World War II.

Abe pointed to his previous stop at the World War II memorial in Washington at a speech to a joint session of US Congress as acts intended to pay tribute to victims of the war on both sides.