The White House on Wednesday left open the possibility that President Obama will stop in Hiroshima when he travels to Japan next month for the G-7 summit.
"The president, on previous trips to Japan, has sort of faced a question about whether or not to include a stop in Hiroshima," White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged on Tuesday.
"[T]he symbol of Hiroshima is the significant, and even in some ways, tragic, ability that mankind has to wreak terrible destruction, and one of the reasons that the president has started and routinely convened a national nuclear security summit in pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons," Earnest offered, referring to the recently concluded summit of world leaders in Washington to stem nuclear weapons proliferation.
Earnest said Hiroshima is the most powerful symbol of why Obama's goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons is important, but wouldn't commit Obama to becoming the first U.S. president to visit it.
"[S]ymbolically, there's no more powerful illustration of that commitment then the city that contained the victims of the first use of that weapon," Earnest said. "But, you know, at this point I don't have an update for you on his itinerary."
Secretary of State John Kerry visited the memorial to the world's first victims of an atomic weapon on Monday and encouraged "everyone" to follow suit. "So I hope one day, the president of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here," Kerry said.
The White House will not factor inevitable criticism of such a trip in deciding whether Obama will go, Earnest said.
The "president will be focused on the policy considerations and whatever decision he makes and, whatever policy decision the administration makes, will be consistent with the president's strong view about the bravery, courage and heroism of those Americans who fought in World War II," Earnest said.