Barack Obama, the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, on Friday paid tribute to the 140,000 people killed by the world's first atomic bomb attack and sought to bring global attention to his unfulfilled vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
"Death fell from the sky and the world was changed," Obama said, after laying a wreath, closing his eyes and briefly bowing his head before an arched monument in Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park that honors those killed on August 6, 1945, when US forces dropped the bomb that ushered in the nuclear age.
Obama acknowledged the devastating toll of war and urged the world to do better as he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood near an iconic bombed-out domed building. "We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell ... we listen to a silent cry." Obama said.
Obama also sought to look forward to the day when there was less danger of nuclear war. He received a Nobel Peace Prize early on his presidency for his anti-nuclear agenda. "We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them," Obama said of nuclear weapons.
The visit presents a diplomatic tightrope for a US president trying to make history without ripping open old wounds. Critics believe Obama's mere presence in Hiroshima will be viewed as an apology for what they see as a justified attack but he has also drawn praise from those who see it as a long overdue gesture needed to heal old wounds.