HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) -- U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited an atomic bomb memorial site in Hiroshima on Saturday, in a show of support for a world without nuclear weapons as fears about Russia using the devastating arms are growing.
Emanuel, a former top aide to former President Barack Obama, and Kishida, a lawmaker representing a constituency in the city, offered flowers for the victims of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing at the Peace Memorial Park near ground zero and visited the Peace Memorial Museum.
"There is a real concern that Russia could use nuclear weapons," Kishida said, referring to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, when he met with the ambassador after visiting the park. "They must not be used."
Their visit to one of the two atomic-bombed cities in Japan comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin recently hinted at using nuclear weapons in the face of Ukraine's resistance and severe economic sanctions imposed by Western nations following its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
"The lessons of Hiroshima must be our North Star guiding us to a world free of war and open to peace. Let us have the courage and strength to heed the lessons represented in this museum," Emanuel wrote in a Twitter post after visiting the museum.
Earlier in the day, Emanuel tweeted that he met with Shigeaki Mori, an atomic bomb sufferer who in 2016 hugged Obama during his historic visit to the city, the first by a sitting U.S. president. Kishida, a foreign minister at the time, played an active role in realizing the visit.
Japan has joined the U.S. and European countries in imposing sanctions on Russia, including freezing its central bank's assets, disconnecting its key financial institutions from a major international payment system and imposing export bans and controls. It has said it is preparing additional measures as the war in Ukraine drags on.
Emanuel and Kishida were initially scheduled to visit the city on Feb. 26 but postponed it following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Emanuel expressed his desire to visit the western Japanese city when he first met Kishida, who seeks a world free of nuclear weapons, in February as the envoy to Japan.