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  • With the evening sun sinking over Hiroshima and the hollowed, skeletal dome of the Peace Park in front of him,

  • Barack Obama did what no sitting U.S. president has done before - recall the annihilation of the atom bomb in the very city it reduced to ashes.

  • Before embarking on an emotionally-charged speech, Mr. Obama later wreath in memory of approximately 80,000 men, women and children who died

  • when the U.S. became the first and only country to use an atomic bomb on the 6th of August, 1945.

  • Then Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, laid a wreath in turn.

  • Mr. Abe bowed, Mr. Obama did not.

  • Then the two men shook hands, a symbol of the 70-year U.S.- Japan friendship that grew from the devastation of war.

  • 71 years ago death fell from the sky and the world was changed, said Mr. Obama, addressing an audience that included hibakusha, survivors of the bombing.

  • We've come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so distant past.

  • But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history, and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.

  • The U.S. president made clear he was not apologizing, addressing troops at a U.S. marine core base near Hiroshima earlier in the day.

  • A choreography to show strength as well as sorrow,

  • he said the visit was an opportunity to honor the memory of all who were lost in World War II.

  • It's a chance to reaffirm our commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world where nuclear weapons would no longer be necessary.

  • And it's a testament to how even the most painful divides can be bridged,

  • how our two nations, former adversaries, can not just become partners, but become the best of friends and the strongest of allies.

  • Mr. Obama's visit is a powerful symbol of reconciliation between the U.S. and Japan, former enemies who have become close allies.

  • Opinion polls show an overwhelming majority of Japanese are pleased Mr. Obama is visiting now even without an apology,

  • after U.S. presidents avoided the site for 71 years.

  • The visit also symbolizes some of the frustrated ambitions of Mr. Obama's presidency.

  • In the 7 years since his landmark speech in Prague, where he said the U.S. has a moral responsibility to rid the world of atomic weapons,

  • Russia, China and others have modernized their atomic arms.

  • Leo Lewis, Financial Times, Tokyo.

With the evening sun sinking over Hiroshima and the hollowed, skeletal dome of the Peace Park in front of him,

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