Abe to make his­toric trip to Pearl Har­bor First Ja­panese leader to visit Pearl Har­bor

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe is to be­come the first Ja­panese leader to visit Pearl Har­bor, an­nounc­ing yes­ter­day a trip to Hawaii this month for talks with US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Abe, who will be in Hawaii on De­cem­ber 26 and 27, will visit the site of the sur­prise Ja­panese at­tack on De­cem­ber 7, 1941, that be­gan World War II in the Pa­cific. The Hawaii visit comes af­ter Obama in May jour­neyed to Hiroshima, the Ja­panese city where a US plane dropped the world’s first atom bomb in the clos­ing chap­ter of the war. Na­gasaki was bombed sev­eral days later. In Hiroshima 140,000 peo­ple died in the im­me­di­ate blast on Au­gust 6, 1945, or later from ra­di­a­tion ex­po­sure. The Na­gasaki bomb, dropped on Au­gust 9, killed more than 70,000 peo­ple.

Obama gave a soar­ing speech in Hiroshima that, while it of­fered no apol­ogy, was gen­er­ally well re­ceived in Ja­pan as it fo­cused on the suf­fer­ing of the atomic bomb vic­tims. “We come to pon­der a ter­ri­ble force un­leashed in the not-so-dis­tant past,” Obama said in his speech at a ceno­taph in the now thriv­ing city, as a hand­ful of sur­viv­ing vic­tims looked on. “We come to mourn the dead.” Obama had in­sisted be­fore the trip that he would not re­visit de­ci­sions made by then-pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man at the close of the bru­tal war, thus quash­ing any pos­si­bil­ity of an apol­ogy. But as a flame flick­ered be­hind him, he said lead­ers had an obli­ga­tion to “pur­sue a world with­out” nu­clear weapons.

Abe on Mon­day hailed Obama’s May speech. His “mes­sage to­wards a nu­cle­ar­free world dur­ing his visit to Hiroshima re­mains etched into Ja­panese hearts,” Abe said. “I’d like to make it (meet­ing with Obama) an op­por­tu­nity to send a mes­sage to the world that we will fur­ther strengthen and main­tain our al­liance to­wards the fu­ture,” he said. “And at the same time, I want to make it an op­por­tu­nity to sig­nal the value of Ja­pan-US rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.”

Obama’s trip had sparked spec­u­la­tion that Abe could visit Pearl Har­bor in re­sponse, though the govern­ment pre­vi­ously de­nied that was un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. Abe’s wife Akie vis­ited Pearl Har­bor in Au­gust and said on Face­book that she of­fered flow­ers and prayers at the USS Ari­zona Me­mo­rial. On the day of the at­tack 75 years ago, Ja­panese planes swept low over the US naval base, killing more than 2,400 Amer­i­can troops and civilians, a date which then-pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt de­clared would live in “infamy”.

The two-hour bom­bard­ment of the US Pa­cific Fleet at an­chor sank or dam­aged some 20 ships and de­stroyed 164 planes. Abe’s planned visit to Pearl Har­bor was the top item on pub­lic broad­caster NHK’s evening news bul­letin, with so­cial me­dia in Ja­pan re­act­ing pos­i­tively to the premier’s an­nounce­ment. “I think it’s a good thing,” said @CNBLUE_6569 on Twit­ter. “Af­ter see­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, I felt strongly that I wanted a Ja­panese prime min­is­ter to visit” Pearl Har­bor. “Pres­i­dent Obama came to Hiroshima so Prime Min­is­ter Abe should go to Pearl Har­bor,” Twit­ter user @chika­zoe­makoto said. “I think Abe made a re­ally good de­ci­sion.” — AFP

OSAKA: Ja­panese Ku­niyoshi Taki­moto, who was a Ja­pan Navy air­craft me­chanic dur­ing Pearl Har­bor at­tack on De­cem­ber 7, 1941, looks on at the door­way of his home in Osaka. — AFP

TOKYO: Lo­cal tele­vi­sion news dis­plays Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe speak­ing to re­porters at his of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Tokyo yes­ter­day. — AFP

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