During a historic and emotional visit to Hiroshima, US President Barack Obama paid a moving tribute to the victims of the first atomic bomb Friday.
By doing so, he has become the the first sitting US president to visit the city and meet survivors of the fearsome attack that marked one of the final and terrifying chapters of World War II.
On the occasion, he made an emotional speech that moved many. He said,
"71 years ago, death fell from the sky and the world was changed," Obama said of a bomb that "demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself".
"Why did we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in the not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead"
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with Obama, offered a floral wreath at the cenotaph with a silent bow at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Obama even embraced the survivors. One of the survivors, 79 year old Shigeaki Mori, was touched by this gesture and exclaimed,
“The president gestured as if he was going to give me a hug, so we hugged”
Meanwhile, Japanese and American flags were seen flown on the street in front of the site. A huge crowd gathered to meet the American president, who retains enormous star power in Japan. Hoping for abolishment of nuclear weapons Toshiyuki Kawamoto, a Japenese national said:
"We welcome President Obama, I hope this historic visit to Hiroshima will push for the movement of abolishing nuclear weapons in the world.
Although Obama didn't directly apologise for the bombings as he insisted that he would not revisit decisions made by former president Harry Truman at the close of a brutal war, he made all efforts to call for peace. He said,
"We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry."
"The world was forever changed here but, today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace," the US president said. "What a precious thing that is."
Hoping for a peaceful and nuclear free future, Japanese President appreciated Shinzo Abe praised the "courage" of the visit. Speaking on Obama's gesture he said,
"An American president comes into contact with the reality of an atomic bombing and renews his resolve toward realising a world without nuclear weapons,"
"I sincerely welcome this historic visit, which has long been awaited by not only people of Hiroshima, but by all Japanese people."
The trip has come more than seven decades after the Enola Gay bomber dropped its deadly atomic payload, dubbed "Little Boy", over the western Japanese city. The bombing which claimed the lives of 140,000 people, is dreaded as one of the worst attacks in mankind's history.
However, America's arch rival North Korea called it a "childish political calculation", as per reports. North Korea’s official KCNA news agency called Obama’s trek to Hiroshima an act of "childish political calculation"and called the President "nuclear war maniac". The agency said,
"Obama is seized with the wild ambition to dominate the world by dint of the US nuclear edge".
However Beijing's China Daily newspaper ran a headline saying: "Atomic bombings of Japan were of its own making."