Barack Obama will on Friday becomes the first U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, site of the world's first atomic bombing, a gesture Washington and Tokyo hope will showcase their alliance and breathe life into stalled efforts to abolish nuclear arms.
Even before it occurs, though, the visit has stirred debate, with critics accusing both sides of having selective memories, and pointing to paradoxes in policies relying on nuclear deterrence while calling for an end to atomic arms.
The two governments hope Obama's tour of Hiroshima, where an atomic bomb dropped on Aug. 6, 1945, killed thousands instantly and some 140,000 by the year's end, will highlight a new level of reconciliation and tighter ties between the former enemies.
Aides say Obama's main objective in Hiroshima, where he will lay a wreath at a peace memorial, is to showcase his nuclear disarmament agenda. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for what many said were eloquent speeches on the topic.