U.S. President Barack Obama's planned visit to the Japanese city of Hiroshima will include laying a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and a "brief tour" of the memorial grounds, a senior White House official said Thursday.
"We anticipate that he will be able to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial to lay a wreath and engage in a brief tour of the memorial grounds after which he will be able to deliver a statement reflecting upon what his impressions are," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said during a conference call with reporters.
Obama's visit to Hiroshima, set for May 27, has also been a focus of attention in South Korea amid concern that it could dilute Japan's wartime aggression by making the country look like a victim. Calls have risen in South Korea that Obama's visit to the peace park should include a stop at a monument honoring Korean victims.
"This will be an opportunity for him to reflect on the extraordinary human toll of war and the loss of innocents in World War II, the loss of innocents of course in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also in many countries around the world," Rhodes said.
"Even in Hiroshima, you had obviously an extraordinary loss of life of innocent Japanese civilians, and you also had the loss of life of many Koreans who were present in Hiroshima and even American service members who were there," he said.
Rhodes also said Obama will reaffirm his commitment to a world without nuclear weapons.
In response to a question about the possibility of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting Pearl Harbor, Rhodes said the U.S. draws "no linkages" to the decision to visit Hiroshima.
He said that Obama made the decision because he believes it's important to acknowledge and look squarely at history. Rhodes also applauded South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Abe for their courage to reach December's agreement on resolving the "comfort women" issue of Japan's wartime sexual slavery. (Yonhap)