US Secretary of State John Kerry visited the revered memorial to Hiroshima’s atomic bombing today, delivering a message of peace and hope for a nuclear-free world seven decades after the US used the weapon for the first time in history and killed 140,000 Japanese.
Kerry became the most senior American official to travel to city, touring its peace museum with other foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialised nations and laying a wreath at the adjoining park’s stone-arched monument, the exposed steel beams of Hiroshima’s iconic A-Bomb Dome in the distance.
The otherwise somber occasion was lifted by the presence of about 800 Japanese waving flags of the G7 nations, including that of the US.
Kerry didn’t speak publicly at the ceremony, though could be seen with his arm around Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, a Hiroshima native, and whispering in his ear. The ministers departed with origami cranes in their respective national colours around their neck, Kerry draped in red, white and blue.
“Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial,” Kerry wrote in the museum’s guest book. “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.”