Barack Obama said on Sunday his visit to Hiroshima, the first city to suffer an atomic bombing, would emphasize friendly ties between former enemies. But the US president reiterated he would not apologize for the devastating attack.

Obama will become the first sitting US president to tour the site of the world’s first nuclear bombing this Friday, accompanied by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Apology- to be or not to be

Critics argue that by not apologizing, Obama will allow Japan to stick to the narrative that paints it as a victim.

The Abe administration has affirmed past government apologies for Japanese actions during the war, but asserts that future generations should not have to apologize for the actions of their forebears.

Obama said the visit will be a time to reflect on the harsh toll that war takes at any time.

“Since I only have a few months left in the office, I thought it was a good time for me to reflect on the nature of war. Part of my goal is to recognize that innocent people caught in war can suffer tremendously,” he said.

“And that’s not just the thing of the past. That is happening today in many parts of the world.”