Obama pays tribute to victims of Hiroshima bomb attack

May 27, 2016, 4:24 AM EDT
U.S. President Barack Obama in Japan in 2014
(Source: U.S. Embassy Tokyo/flickr)

In a gesture that showcases the strengthening alliance between the U.S. and Japan, President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima and paid homage to the victims of the world’s first atomic bombing.

Obama, who was accompanied by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, earlier stated that he wouldn't be issuing an apology for the WWII-era attack. The historic visit comes even as the critics slammed both the U.S. and Japan for apparent contradictions in their nuclear weapons policies even as the two countries advocate atomic disarmament.

“A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself,” said Obama in a 20-minute address, writes CNN.

Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, writes the BBC.

In a region where China’s military might is on the rise, the visit carries a strategic message of reconciliation between America and Japan, political experts say. North Asian nations, particularly South Korea and China, are “wary” about Obama’s visit, notes Al Jazeera. There is a fear that Japanese nationalists will use the opportunity to softpedal the country’s wartime atrocities and attempt to shrug off its image as an “aggressor" during the conflict.