President Barack Obama delivered remarks Friday during his trip to Hiroshima, Japan, marking the first time an American president has visited the city since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb there in August 1945 to hasten the end of World War II.
Speaking at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Obama said "death fell from the sky" when describing the effects of America’s decision.
"Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky, and the world was changed," Obama solemnly told observers, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe standing behind his right shoulder.
"A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself," Obama continued. "Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women, and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner."
The president then asked everyone to "look inward and take stock of who we are and what we might become." He later called for a "world without nuclear weapons" and reaffirmed America’s close alliance with Japan.
Obama did not apologize for President Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb and was not expected to do so. The White House has gone out of its way to make clear that Obama would not issue an apology or revisit the decision itself.
Japan soon surrendered to end World War II after the atomic bomb was used, avoiding a full-scale U.S. assault on the Japanese mainland.