Barack Obama on Friday became the first sitting United States President to visit Hiroshima, the site of the world's first atomic bombing. Obama paid a moving tribute to the victims of the attack and took stock of the devastation the bomb caused. But he stopped short of an apology. "Seventy-one years ago on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed," he said at the site of the first atomic bombing. "A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself."
The US is the only country to have ever used atomic weapons in warfare. In August 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing thousands shortly after impact. By the end of the year, the death toll had reach 140,000, not to mention the indelible scar it left on Japan’s collective psyche. Back then, the US had justified that it was necessary to drop the bombs in order to end World War II. It is an argument that has since been trashed by historians and geostrategic experts. The horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is what prompted the world into recognising the dangers of nuclear weapons. Since then, the emphasis has been deterring other nations from making or using these weapons, although the US continues to hold large stocks.