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Obama’s Hiroshima visit draws raves, memento-seekers

By AFP
27 May 2016 0

US President Barack Obama's visit to Hiroshima on Friday drew raves on social media and from many of the thousands who turned up to witness the historic event.

It also spawned a huge queue of well-wishers eager to snap a picture of the white-flower wreath that Obama placed in front of a cenotaph to victims at the city’s Peace Memorial Park.

The line of hundreds snaked along a concrete path leading up to the iconic monument where Obama had stood as the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima since the bomb was dropped on the city on August 6, 1945, in the final chapter of World War II.

Some posed beside the wreath inscribed with Obama’s name, including visitors who had been unable to catch a glimpse of the US president because of the huge crowds.

“I couldn’t see him at all so at least I wanted to get a picture of the wreath,” said Hiroshima local Kana Kamioka, a 30-something shop employee.

“I’m going to upload them on my Twitter account so my friends know I was here.”

Megu Shimomura, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, said she was “thrilled” to have seen history in the making.

“He is someone who lives in a very different world than I do, but I felt his humanity,” she said of Obama’s impassioned speech.

Reaction on social media was also upbeat, with Twitter user @0li0li0livia saying: “Mr Obama’s speech was really great. I had tears in my eyes.”

American visitor Miki Palm welcomed Obama’s decision to come to Hiroshima, but it aggravated longstanding questions about wartime US President Harry Truman’s decision to use an atomic weapon to end the war.

“We should not have dropped the bomb,” the mother of two from San Francisco said before the official ceremony.

“America has this misconception that we had to drop the bomb in order to stop the war, but that’s a mistake.”

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