Obama heads for nuclear bomb city of Hiroshima in historic first for a president

Barack Obama is poised to become the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima since it was destroyed by an atomic bomb in 1945. He was talking to U.S. and Japanese troops at Iwakuni air station on Friday morning before making a short visit to the city where 140,000 were killed towards the end of World War II. Mr Obama will not apologise for the nuclear attack, nor will he speculate on whether it was necessary or not to end the conflict. Instead, he said he was going to salute the tens of millions who died during World War II and to show former enemies can become firm friends.

Prime minister Abe and I coming to Hiroshima together shows the world the possibility of reconciliation - that even former adversaries can become the strongest of allies

Barack Obama

Mr Obama was making the visit with Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe at the end of two days of talks at the G7 summit in Japan. It has proved a controversial gesture, with supporters praising his breaking of a decades long taboo over the issue and critics saying he is allowing Japan to continue to portray itself as a victim in the war. Mr Abe said what happened at Hiroshima should never be repeated and the U.S. president’s visit would give a boost o efforts to achieve a nuclear-free world. However, China said on Friday the massacre of 300,000 civilians by Japanese troops in the city of Nanjing during World War II was more worthy of remembrance.

I want Obama to say ‘I’m sorry’. If he does, maybe my suffering will ease. If Obama apologised, I could die and meet my parents in heaven in peace

Eiji Hattori, 73, a toddler at the time of the bombing who now has three types of cancer