Seven months af­ter Obama vis­ited Hiroshima, Abe hon­ors USS Ari­zona

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - Carolyn Kaster, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe par­tic­i­pate in a wreath­lay­ing cer­e­mony at the USS Ari­zona Memo­rial in Hawaii on Tues­day. The memo­rial is part of the World War II Valor in the Pa­cific Na­tional Mon­u­ment, lo­cated at Joint Base Pearl Har­borHickam in Honolulu. The cer­e­mony hon­ored those killed in the Ja­panese at­tack on the naval har­bor on Dec. 7, 1941.

pearl har­bor, hawaii » In a his­toric pil­grim­age, the lead­ers of Ja­pan and the United States took to the hal­lowed wa­ters of Pearl Har­bor on Tues­day to prove that even the bit­ter­est en­e­mies can be­come al­lies. Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe did not apol­o­gize but con­ceded Ja­pan “must never re­peat the hor­rors of war again.”

Seventy-five years af­ter Ja­pan’s sur­prise at­tack sent Amer­ica march­ing into World War II, Abe and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama peered down at the rust­ing wreck­age of the USS Ari­zona, clearly vis­i­ble in the tran­quil, teal wa­ter. More than 1,000 U.S. war dead re­main en­tombed in the sub­merged ship, and in a show of re­spect, Obama and Abe dropped pur­ple petals into the wa­ter and stood in si­lence.

“As the prime min­is­ter of Ja­pan, I of­fer my sin­cere and ev­er­last­ing con­do­lences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spir­its of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that com­menced in this very place,” Abe said later at nearby Joint Base Pearl Har­bor-Hickam.

That was the clos­est Abe would get to an apol­ogy for the at­tack. And it was enough for Obama, who also de­clined to apol­o­gize seven months ago when he be­came Amer­ica’s first sit­ting pres­i­dent to visit Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb in a bid to end the war.

It was enough, too, for Al­fred Rodrigues, a U.S. Navy vet­eran who sur­vived the at­tack. The 96-year-old said he had no hard feel­ings and added, “War is war.”

“They were do­ing what they were sup­posed to do, and we were do­ing what we were sup­posed to do,” Rodrigues said be­fore the visit.

Abe, who be­came Ja­pan’s first leader to visit Pearl Har­bor with a U.S. pres­i­dent, said the visit “brought ut­ter si­lence to me.” His re­marks capped a day that was care­fully chore­ographed by the U.S. and Ja­pan to show a strong and grow­ing al­liance be­tween former foes.

They started with a for­mal meet­ing at another nearby mil­i­tary base, in what the White House said was likely Obama’s last meet­ing with a for­eign leader be­fore leav­ing of­fice in Jan­uary. It was a book­end of sorts for the pres­i­dent, who nearly eight years ago in­vited Abe’s pre­de­ces­sor to be the first leader he hosted at the White House.

Obama, speak­ing af­ter he and Abe laid green-and-peach wreaths at the memo­rial, called the har­bor a sa­cred place and said that “even the deep­est wounds of war can give way to friend­ship and last­ing peace.” It’s a no­tion Obama tried through­out his pres­i­dency to put into prac­tice, as he reached out to former ad­ver­saries Iran, Myan­mar and Cuba.

“As we lay a wreath or toss flow­ers into wa­ters that still weep, we think of the more than 2,400 Amer­i­can pa­tri­ots, fa­thers and hus­bands, wives and daugh­ters, manning heaven’s rails for all eter­nity,” Obama said.

Then the two lead­ers greeted sur­vivors in the crowd. They shook hands and hugged some of the men who fought in the bat­tle on Dec. 7, 1941, which Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt called a “date which will live in in­famy.”

Ja­panese lead­ers have vis­ited Pearl Har­bor be­fore, but Abe was the first to go to the memo­rial above the sunken USS Ari­zona, where a mar­bled wall lists the names of U.S. troops killed in the Ja­panese at­tack.

Marco Gar­cia, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, left, and U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama visit with Pearl Har­bor vet­er­ans, seated from left, Ster­ling Cale, Al Rodrigues and Everett Hy­land at Joint Base Pearl Har­bor-Hickam in Honolulu on Tues­day.

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