Japanese PM Abe to visit Pearl Harbor with Obama

WASHINGTON: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama on Tuesday will make a “historic” visit to Pearl Harbor, the Hawaiian naval base where Japan attacked the US, prompting its entry into World War II.
The visit will highlight how far the two allies have come more than seven decades after the war and provides a symbolic counterpart to Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in May, the US and Japanese governments said.
The leaders will visit the USS Arizona Memorial, a sweeping white structure suspended over the sunken remains of a ship destroyed during the battle. The December 7, 1941 surprise attack killed 2,403 Americans and left the US Pacific Fleet in ruins. President Franklin Roosevelt called it a “date which will live in infamy” in a speech to Congress the next day, and the US entered a war that would last another four-and-a-half years with fronts in the Pacific and Europe.
Though the visit will not be the first by a Japanese leader to the site, it will be the most prominent, as Abe arrives alongside Obama to pay tribute to those killed in the war between their nations.
“We must never repeat the horrors of war. Looking to the future, I want to demonstrate that resolve to the world,” Abe told reporters earlier this month.
Obama in May became the first US president to visit Hiroshima, where US forces dropped a nuclear bomb at the end of the war, and Abe’s visit had initially been reported as the first by a Japanese leader to the US site. In fact, premier Shigeru Yoshida made a low-key visit to the site in 1951, the Japanese government confirmed earlier this month.
Two other prime ministers also visited during the 1950s, according to photos published in a local Hawaiian Japanese-language newspaper and reported by Japanese media.
The previous Japanese prime ministers made low-profile visits to the site, but wounds between the countries were still raw at that time and this visit 75 years later shows just how far the allies have come.
“It will provide them an opportunity to pay their respects to those who were killed on December 7, 1941, while also highlighting the power of reconciliation that has moved the United States and Japan from adversaries to the closest of allies,” said Daniel Kritenbrink, an adviser to Obama on Asia policy. “The visit to Pearl Harbor will mark just how far we have come in our alliance with Japan not just since World War II, but also over the course of the Obama administration.” The Pearl Harbor visit was decided upon by the leaders on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Peru in November and was not directly tied to the Hiroshima visit, but would prove equally symbolic, Kritenbrink said. — DPA

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