It would be “only” a gesture — but what an important one. The Washington Post, yesterday:
… Today… there is growing sentiment inside the White House that President Obama, who in his first year envisioned a world without nuclear weapons, should cap his final year with a grand symbolic gesture in service of a goal that remains well out of reach.
No final decision has been made, but aides have begun exploring the possibility of Obama spending several hours in Hiroshima in May, after attending the Group of Seven Summit in Ise-Shima, halfway between Tokyo and Hiroshima. One senior Obama administration official, in an interview, suggested that the president could potentially deliver a speech there that evokes the nonproliferation themes of his address in Prague in 2009. Such a move would draw international attention in a more emotional fashion than did his nuclear security summit in Washington last week…
White House aides say they are confident that Obama can pay respects to the victims of the war — on both sides of the Pacific — without provoking a major political backlash in the United States. The feeling within the White House is that a Hiroshima visit, while not crucial to the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance, would offer the president another opportunity to recognize history without being, in his words, “imprisoned” by it…
The Post, today:
HIROSHIMA, Japan — Secretary of State John F. Kerry paid an emotional visit Monday to a museum and marker near ground zero in the city where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in the waning days of World War II.
Kerry and his fellow foreign ministers from six other powerful democracies first toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial museum, where exhibits display the aftermath of the bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” — from charred tricycles and melted roof tiles to cancerous tongues and models of people with melting skin.
Then they walked solemnly to lay wreaths of white and pink carnations at a cenotaph that frames an eternal flame and the skeletal ruins of the one, dome-shaped building left standing. They approached the marker past about 800 elementary schoolchildren from neighborhood schools who cheered and waved the national flags of the visiting diplomats, in a calculated effort to keep the focus on the future and efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons….
“While we will revisit the past and honor those who perished, this trip is not about the past,” Kerry said before a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister. “It’s about the present and the future particularly, and the strength of the relationship that we have built, the friendship that we share, the strength of our alliance, and the strong reminder of the imperative we all have to work for peace for peoples everywhere.”…
Apart from appreciating, once again, how fortunate we have been to have Barack Obama as our President, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?