At Hiroshima Obama seeks contemplation; no Pearl Harbor for Abe

Updated: 2016-05-27 07:40

By Agencies In Iseshima, Japan(China Daily)

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US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday 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 opened his trip to Japan with much intrigue about his upcoming stop in the city where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb. But that first visit by a sitting US president was caught up 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 said 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 Aug 6, 1945, that killed 140,000 people.

The Japanese government frequently uses Hiroshima to pose itself as a victim of the war but seldom mention its wartime atrocities in its invasion against Asian neighbors.

The White House has ruled out an apology by the president for the atomic bombing.

"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."

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 acknowledgment of its wartime actions.

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