Secretary of State John Kerry laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum Monday, becoming the first U.S. secretary of state to pay tribute to the historic site where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb during World War II.
Although he did not apologize for the U.S. decision to drop the bomb, Kerry called his trip to the memorial “stunning” and “gut-wrenching.”
“It reminds everybody of the extraordinary complexity of choices in war and of what war does to people, to communities, to countries, to the world,” he said.
Kerry also expressed hope that President Obama would be able to visit the memorial when he travels to Japan next month for the Group of Seven (G7) Summit.
“I promise you when I get back to Washington Tuesday night and I see the president this week, I will certainly convey to him what I saw here and how important it is at some point to try to get here,” Kerry told reporters.
Kerry stressed the need to end the threat of nuclear weapons and was critical of political candidates who advocate for increasing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
In addition to laying a wreath at the memorial, Kerry signed the guestbook.
He later tweeted out a photo of his message, which reads: "Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial. It is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself. War must be the last resort - never the first choice. This memorial compels us all to redouble our efforts to change the world, to find peace and build the future so yearned for by citizens everywhere."
Honored to be 1st Sec State to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum & Park. Here is what I wrote in the guestbook. pic.twitter.com/suQSxMCLs1— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) April 11, 2016
More than 100,000 Japanese were killed after an American B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The explosion destroyed approximately 90 percent of the city.
Three days later, the U.S. dropped another bomb on Nagasaki, killing tens of thousands more.
The death toll continued to rise as people suffered from the long-term effects of radiation.
Kerry is in Japan for a series of meetings with the foreign ministers of the G7 major industrialized countries before the summit takes place in the country next month.