Secretary of State John KerryJohn Kerry9/11 and US-China policy: The geopolitics of distraction Australia's duty to the world: Stop mining coal Overnight Energy & Environment — Effort to repeal Arctic refuge drilling advances MORE suggested President Obama is eyeing a potentially historic trip to Hiroshima next month, when he will be visiting Japan for an international summit.
Kerry visited the Japanese city on Monday, becoming the first U.S. secretary of State to do so since American forces dropped an atomic bomb on the city during World War II.
“What I got here was a firsthand sense of what happened in Hiroshima and what happens with a nuclear weapon, particularly in terms of its types of destruction,” Kerry told reporters at a press conference after touring a memorial about the attack.
“Everyone should visit Hiroshima, and ‘everyone’ means everyone,” he added. “So I hope one day, the president of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here.”
“Whether or not he can come as president or [not], I don’t know,” Kerry said. “That is subject to a very, very full and complicated schedule that the president has to plan out way ahead of time. ... I know, because he has said so publicly, he wants to come to Hiroshima sometime. But whether or not that can work in the next visit, I just don’t know.”
Kerry’s comments add to mounting speculation about Obama’s itinerary for his May trip to Japan for a Group of Seven summit in Ise-Shima, which is roughly halfway between Hiroshima and Tokyo.
Obama’s visit would be the first time that a sitting U.S. president paid respects at the site of the nuclear attack and could be a way to reinforce his call for a world free of nuclear arms. Yet the move would also be controversial because his critics frequently argue that Obama needlessly apologizes for America’s history.
The potential visit was a topic of multiple questions from Japanese reporters on Monday.
In response, Kerry maintained that he was unsure about Obama’s plans but would push him to come — at some point.
“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,” said Kerry, who was in the city with other G7 diplomats. “You can be assured of that.”
Kerry, who said he understands the “insanity” of war firsthand from his time in the Navy during the Vietnam War, used his remarks at the memorial to press for alternatives to armed conflict.
“I wrote [in the guest book] that every person should be able to see this memorial and other memorials of war, because they bring home to people the importance of diplomacy, the importance of engagement, the importance of trying to work through these issues in a better way,” he told reporters.
The nation’s top diplomat also threw in a swipe at Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE, who has called for a dramatic reevaluation of global security by suggesting that Japan and South Korea obtain nuclear weapons to protect themselves, among other steps.
“Any suggestion by any candidate for high public office that we should be building more weapons and giving them to a country like Korea or Japan are absurd on their face and run counter to everything that every president, Republican or Democrat alike, has tried to achieve ever since World War II," Kerry said.