By Leigh Hartman
December 28, 2016 :
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined President Obama at Pearl Harbor on December 27 to commemorate the anniversary of the attack that launched the war between their countries 75 years ago.
Though Abe is not the first Japanese prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, he is the first sitting Japanese leader to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, which honors the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed in the sinking of the battleship on December 7, 1941.
“It was a place which brought utter silence to me,” Abe said. “As the prime minister of Japan, I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here.”
Obama said: “The sacrifice made here, the anguish of war, reminds us to seek the divine spark that is common to all humanity. It insists that we strive to be what our Japanese friends call ‘otagai no tame ni’ — ‘with and for each other.’”
Abe’s visit to the site of the Japanese attack follows Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in May. Obama attended a memorial service for those killed by the nuclear bombs America used against Japan in 1945.
Both leaders condemned the scourge of war and hailed the visits as important signs of the strength of the U.S.-Japanese relationship.
“It has now been 75 years since Pearl Harbor. Japan and the United States, which fought a fierce war that will go down in the annals of human history, have become allies with deep and strong ties rarely found anywhere in history,” Abe said.
Obama thanked Abe for coming to the USS Arizona Memorial, saying it was “a historic gesture that speaks to the power of reconciliation and the alliance between the American and Japanese peoples, a reminder that even the deepest wounds of war can give way to friendship and lasting peace.”
Obama said: “After one of the most horrific chapters in human history — one that took not tens of thousands but tens of millions of lives, with ferocious fighting across this ocean — the United States and Japan chose friendship and they chose peace.”