Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima on Monday, making him the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the site since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb there at the end of World War II.

Kerry didn't apologize for the U.S. attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, as some Japanese activists have pushed for. He did honor those who died in the bombings, NPR's Elise Hu reports.

On the visit, Kerry toured the peace museum and laid a wreath at the monument to the attack, The Associated Press reports.

The memorial is located where the city's political and commercial center used to be, as NPR's Eyder Peralta reported for our Newscast unit. "After the bombing, the Japanese decided to make it a symbol of disarmament," Eyder says.

Afterward, the AP writes, the secretary of state described the emotional visit for reporters:

" 'It is a stunning display, it is a gut-wrenching display,' he told reporters of the museum tour, recounting exhibits that showed the bomb, the explosion, the 'incredible inferno' and mushroom cloud that enveloped Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. 'It tugs at all of your sensibilities as a human being. It reminds everybody of the extraordinary complexity of choices of war and what war does to people, to communities, countries, the world.'"Kerry urged all world leaders to visit, saying: 'I don't see how anyone could forget the images, the evidence, the recreations of what happened.' "

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