John Kerry becomes first US secretary of state to visit Hiroshima peace park

Mr Kerry said "everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial"

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A wreath with the name of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is placed on a table ahead of a visit by the Group of Seven foreign ministers at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. Image: Mari Yamaguchi / AP/Press Association Images

US Secretary of State John Kerry has made a historic visit to the peace park and memorial in Hiroshima, Japan.

He has become the first sitting secretary of state to visit the memorial site, after the city was hit by a US nuclear bomb in 1945. He laid a wreath during his visit at the cenotaph in memory of the victims, although did not offer an apology for the bombing.

The B-29 Superfortress plane carrying 12 crew members dropped the first atomic bomb over the Japanese city on August 6th in 1945, killing tens of thousands of people.

Writing in a guestbook at the site, Mr Kerry wrote ‎‎"everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial. 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".

The Hiroshima Peace Park was opened in 1954. As well as a new peace museum and conference centre, it contains the symbolic A-Bomb Dome - a building that was partially destroyed in the nuclear explosion.

G7 foreign ministers are meeting in Hiroshima, and have been calling for renewed efforts towards nuclear disarmament.

The Japan Times reports that while previous international conferences and meetings have been held in the city, the current G7 summit marks the first time foreign ministers representing a number of the world’s nuclear powers have travelled to the memorial site.

The leaders are also discussing issues such as international terrorism during the summit.

Barack Obama is due to visit Japan for a G7 gathering in May, and it remains unclear whether he will visit the peace park.

According to The Guardian, Mr Kerry told reporters that "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, I don’t know".