Obama hails ‘great alliance’ with Japan ahead of Hiroshima visit

AFP

© AFP | A protestor holds a poster reading ‘No Abe! No Obama – We oppose Abe and Obama visit to Hiroshima’ during a demonstration next to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial park

IWAKUNI (JAPAN) (AFP) – President Barack Obama hailed the “great alliance” between the United States and Japan Friday, just hours ahead of his historic visit to Hiroshima.

“We are reaffirming one of the greatest alliances in the world between Japan and the United States,” he told troops at a base in Iwakuni in the west of the country.

The US has around 47,000 personnel stationed in Japan as part of a security alliance that arose from American occupation in the aftermath of World War II.

“We can never forget that we have to honour all of those who have given everything for our freedom,” he told a crowd of uniformed men and women to huge cheers. “I am very proud of you.”

Obama was at Iwakuni on his way to Hiroshima, the site of the world’s first nuclear attack — a pilgrimage that none of his post-war predecessors have made.

“This is an opportunity to honour the memory of all who were lost in WWII,” he said.

“It?s a testament to how even the most painful divides can be bridged. How two nations can become not just partners but the best of friends.”

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