Barack Obama will make a historic trip to Hiroshima, Japan, on May 27, becoming the first sitting US president to visit the site of the world's first atomic bombing.

The White House formally announced the visit after weeks of speculation that Obama would stop in the city after attending the Group of 7 economic summit in Ise-Shima. The President is expected to deliver a speech on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will join Obama on the visit, where the President will "highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," the White House said.

Obama aides say there will be no presidential apology for the US decision to drop the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, which killed an estimated 140,000 people in Hiroshima. Three days later, a second atomic bomb killed up to 80,000 people in Nagasaki.

Advertisement

"He will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II," White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said in a blog post. "Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future."

Critics, including many conservative news outlets, have called a visit unnecessary and framed a potential trip by Obama as an apology for an act that helped bring the war started by Japan to a quicker end, saving lives of US service members.

But the White House believed the time was right, in Obama's final year, to make a grand symbolic statement toward the President's disarmament goals that he announced during his first year in office.

Though Obama has made only modest progress in that effort, aides said the trip would allow the President to focus international attention on the issue at a time when presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has suggested Japan and South Korea develop their own nuclear weapon arsenals in the face of threats from North Korea.

John Kerry became the first US Secretary of State to visit Hiroshima last month during the G-7 foreign ministers' meeting.

Obama also will make his first visit to Vietnam, visiting Hanoi on May 24 and Ho Chi Minh City on May 25, the White House said.