US reflects on lessons of Japanese attack
These days are emotional ones for Pearl Harbor attack survivors as people across the United States mark the 75th anniversary of the Japanese assault.
In the coast of Florida, a retired SS American Victory left its dock on Saturday for a four-hour trip to remember the infamous surprise attack by the Japanese military against the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1941.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Circle Cinema, a local nonprofit theater, plans to screen special documentary films on Wednesday to honor more than 2,400 US soldiers killed on the day 75 years ago.
In Los Angeles, an honor flight carrying surviving veterans of Pearl Harbor took off, heading for Hawaii. Retired Navy Captain Bob Batterson along with 31 other were on that flight.
They were met with cheers, tears and gubernatorial welcome the moment they had landed. Although 75 years had passed, Batterson is still in shock of what had happened.
The attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, had changed the course of history. Now, Pearl Harbor has not only become a reminder of the past, but also a token of peace.
“War continually serves as a reminder to the importance of peace, diplomacy, mutual respect and understanding,” said Deidre Tegarden, executive director of the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center.
The 75th Commemoration on Pearl Harbor Attack is honored these days with an unprecedented series of events and ceremonial tributes on Dec 1-11, all geared toward “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the future”.
Thousands of global visitors and Hawaii residents were expected to take part in the ceremonies and events with media coverage reaching millions of viewers worldwide.
It would provide us with a unique opportunity to honor those who experienced the emotional awakening triggered by the attack, said Admiral Thomas B. Fargo in a statement released by the anniversary committee.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Monday that he planned to visit Pearl Harbor in return for Obama visiting Hiroshima earlier this year. This will make Abe the first Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor since World War II.
However, Abe’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, has made it clear that during Abe’s visit between Dec 26 and Dec 27, “no apology would be offered” for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which was a catalyst for the US to join World War II.
Some political experts however believe that the visit may be completely vacuous, considering the current uncertain global political climate and unclear foreign policy directions of the US under a Donald Trump presidency.
Koichi Nakano, a professor of international politics at Tokyo’s Sophia University, said the Pearl Harbor visit and Abe’s commitment to the Japan-US alliance are tantamount to “giving a blank check to Trump” despite the uncertainty over bilateral relations under his administration.
Sailors launch rescue alongside the sunken battleship USS West Virginia shortly after the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941.