“This is an opportunity to honour the memory of all those who were lost in the Second World War. It’s a chance to pursue peace and security, a world where nuclear weapons would no longer be necessary,” he said during a visit to the Iwakuni Marine Air Station before his arrival at Hiroshima.
Obama’s visit to the site of the devastation in August 1945 that killed over 140,000 people in one go was at least six years in the making inside the White House.
Japanese officials had initially discouraged Obama from coming, but the final ground was paved by Secretary of State John Kerry, who visited the memorial and museum in April.
Obama is expected to meet some survivors of the blast, most of whom were young children at the time their city was destroyed by the fist atom bomb used against humans.
Obama on Thursday said he hoped to mark Hiroshima as a history-altering moment — the US is the only country to have ever used a nuclear bomb — that humanity must avoid repeating.
“The dropping of the atomic bomb, the ushering in of nuclear weapons, was an inflection point in modern history,” Obama said during a news conference at the G-7 Summit in Japan.