Shinzo Abe will be the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit the site of his country’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He will visit Hawaii with US president Barack Obama toward the end of December, shortly after the 75th anniversary of the bombing.
The attack on US forces stationed in Hawaii by Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedoes killed more than 2,300 and led to the US joining Allied forces in World War Two. In 1945, the US defeated Japan after dropping atomic bombs on the country.
“This will be a visit to console the souls of the victims,” Abe told reporters in Tokyo.”I would like to show to the world the resolve that horrors of war should never be repeated.”
Japan and the US have built a strong partnership in the seven decades following the war. “Our talks in Hawaii will be a chance to show the rest of the world our ever-stronger alliance in the future,” Abe said.
Abe’s visit follows Obama’s visit to Hiroshima earlier this year to commemorate the victims of the American nuclear bombing. “The two leaders’ visit will showcase the power of reconciliation that has turned former adversaries into the closest of allies, united by common interests and shared values,” the White House said of the Pearl Harbor visit.
Abe likely will not apologize for the attack, according to an expert interviewed by Reuters, just as Obama did not apologize for the American bombing of Hiroshima. In his May speech Obama called for a “world without nuclear weapons” and said that we should honor the victims by trying to advance “the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family.”
Abe’s stance on Japan’s wartime history has been to express remorse but not apology. Last year, on the 70th anniversary of World War Two’s end, he offered the world “condolences,” but said that “we must not let our children, grandchildren and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.”
The Japanese prime minister was also the first foreign leader to meet with president-elect Donald Trump (and his daughter Ivanka), at Trump Tower in New York on Nov. 17.