TOKYO: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to become the first Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor, announcing on Monday a trip to the site of his country’s surprise attack that launched World War II in the Pacific.
News of the journey comes just two days ahead of the 75th anniversary of the deadly Dec 7, 1941 assault on the US naval base in Hawaii.
The war ended in August 1945 after the US dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan and, although the countries have forged strong ties in the seven decades since, how the war began and concluded has cast a long shadow.
Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor also comes as Japan prepares to build a new relationship with Donald Trump, who will take over from President Barack Obama next month.
Trump sent shockwaves through Japan earlier this year when he appeared to call into question the two countries’ security alliance, prompting Abe to become the first world leader to meet him after the election to confirm the relationship.
His journey to Pearl Harbor will be part of a Dec 26-27 visit to Obama’s home state, where they will hold talks and visit the war site together.
It mirrors Obama’s trip in May to Hiroshima — the first by a sitting US president — during which they went to the memorial to the dropping of the world’s first atomic bomb.
Obama’s visit had sparked speculation that Abe might go to Pearl Harbor in return, though the government had previously denied that was under consideration.
courtesy: dawn news