Abe, Obama set for emo­tional Pearl Har­bor visit

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS -

PEARL HAR­BOR, HAWAII | Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe ar­rived in Hawaii on Mon­day to ac­knowl­edge the Ja­panese at­tacks on Pearl Har­bor 75 years ago, land­ing at Joint Base Pearl Har­bor-Hickam in prepa­ra­tion to be­come the first Ja­panese prime min­is­ter to visit the USS Ari­zona memo­rial that hon­ors sailors and Marines killed in the 1941 at­tack.

On a day when U.S. and Ja­panese of­fi­cials an­nounced a deal to ease ten­sions sur­round­ing the Amer­ica mil­i­tary pres­ence in Ja­pan, Mr. Abe first vis­ited a memo­rial to those who died when a U.S. Navy sub­ma­rine col­lided with a Ja­panese fish­ing ves­sel 15 years ago.

Mr. Shinzo vis­ited the Ehime Maru Memo­rial in Honolulu on Mon­day. Nine boys and men died when the USS Greeneville rammed the Ehime Maru off Oahu on Feb. 9, 2001.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige and U.S. Am­bas­sador to Ja­pan Caro­line Kennedy were among those who joined Mr. Abe for the solemn visit. Ja­pan’s for­mer leader Shigeru Yoshida went to Pearl Har­bor six years af­ter the coun­try’s World War II sur­ren­der, but that was be­fore the USS Ari­zona Memo­rial was built.

The USS Ari­zona Memo­rial will be closed to the pub­lic Tues­day when Mr. Abe vis­its the his­toric site, joined by Pres­i­dent Obama, who is va­ca­tion­ing in Hawaii with his fam­ily.

The im­por­tance of the visit may be mostly sym­bolic for two coun­tries that, in a re­mark­able trans­for­ma­tion, have grown into close al­lies in the decades since they faced off in bru­tal con­flict. At the same time, it’s sig­nif­i­cant that it took more than 70 years for U.S.-Ja­panese re­la­tions to get to this point.

Mr. Abe won’t apol­o­gize for Ja­pan’s at­tack when he vis­its, the government spokesman said ear­lier this month.

Chief Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga said that “the pur­pose of the up­com­ing visit is to pay re­spects for the war dead and not to of­fer an apol­ogy.”

The visit comes six months af­ter Mr. Obama be­came the first sit­ting Amer­i­can pres­i­dent to visit Hiroshima for vic­tims of the U.S. atomic bomb­ing of that city at the end of the same war. Mr. Obama did not of­fer an apol­ogy then ei­ther.

Sep­a­rately on Mon­day, Ja­pan and the U.S. ne­go­tia­tors in Tokyo an­nounced an agree­ment in prin­ci­ple on guide­lines for lim­it­ing im­mu­nity from Ja­panese pros­e­cu­tion for civil­ian work­ers at Amer­i­can mil­i­tary bases, fol­low­ing a mur­der case this year on a south­ern Ja­panese is­land in­volv­ing a Marine-turned-con­trac­tor, of­fi­cials said Mon­day.

Since July the gov­ern­ments have been ne­go­ti­at­ing sev­eral points con­cern­ing U.S. civil­ian con­trac­tors at Amer­i­can bases who are sub­ject to pro­tec­tion un­der the coun­tries’ Sta­tus of Forces Agree­ment.

Ja­panese For­eign Min­is­ter Fu­mio Kishida told re­porters that the two sides have agreed on how to de­fine what con­sti­tutes a “civil­ian con­trac­tor” at an Amer­i­can base and hope to sign the agree­ment “dur­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s term.” He did not give fur­ther de­tails.

The May ar­rest of the base con­trac­tor, ac­cused of rap­ing and mur­der­ing a 20-year-old woman, re­newed out­rage on Ok­i­nawa, where re­sent­ment has been sim­mer­ing over the is­land’s heavy U.S. troop pres­ence.

That prompted Tokyo and Wash­ing­ton to try to es­tab­lish a clearer def­i­ni­tion of “civil­ian base work­ers.” In July the two sides said base con­trac­tors, now de­scribed vaguely as hav­ing a “civil­ian com­po­nent,” will be clas­si­fied in more spe­cific terms to ex­clude from pref­er­en­tial treat­ment those without skills and those who are res­i­dents of Ja­pan, like the sus­pect in the April mur­der case.

About 50,000 U.S. troops are sta­tioned in Ja­pan un­der a bi­lat­eral se­cu­rity agree­ment, more than half of them based on Ok­i­nawa.


Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe is in Hawaii to visit Pearl Har­bor along­side Pres­i­dent Obama. Mr. Abe is the first sit­ting Ja­panese head of state to do so.

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