Asahi Shimbun interview: Obama discusses Hiroshima visit, nuke-free goal, security in Asia
President Barack Obama said the U.S. commitment to Japan’s security remains absolute, America will stand with its partners in maritime disputes, and efforts will be made to prevent crimes by U.S. servicemen in Okinawa Prefecture.
Obama, who is in Japan for the Ise-Shima Group of Seven summit in Mie Prefecture, submitted written responses on May 26 to an exclusive interview with The Asahi Shimbun.
Although he did not respond to questions about the global economy, counterterrorism, the refugee crisis and other issues, the president said he intends to send a message of peace through his visit to Hiroshima while continuing to pursue his goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
The following are the questions and answers:
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Question: The White House announced that you will visit Hiroshima during your upcoming visit to Japan for the G7 Summit. Could you tell us why you decided to go to Hiroshima? If you make a speech in Hiroshima, what will be your message? There is some debate, both in the U.S. and Japan, over whether the US should apologize for dropping the bomb—please share your thoughts on this controversial issue. You advocated for a nuclear-free world in your 2009 Prague speech, but negotiations with Russia have stalled, North Korea now has nuclear weapons, and nuclear proliferation continues to be a serious threat. What is needed to pave the way for your vision of a “world without nuclear weapons?”
Answer: I look forward to visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and I appreciate the chance to do so with Prime Minister Abe. I’m coming, first and foremost, to remember and honor the tens of millions of lives lost during the Second World War. Hiroshima reminds us that war, no matter the cause or countries involved, results in tremendous suffering and loss, especially for innocent civilians. I will not revisit the decision to use atomic weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I will point out that 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.
I won’t give a long speech, but I will also reflect on the vision I outlined in Prague—pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. I’ve always said that this vision might not be achieved in my lifetime, but we’ve made important progress. U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals are on track to be at their lowest levels in six decades. I’ve reduced the number and role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy. In an historic deal, we’ve prevented the spread of nuclear weapons to Iran. Through our Nuclear Security Summits, with strong cooperation from Japan and many other countries, we’ve taken critical steps to prevent nuclear terrorism. Read more