FROM AD­VER­SARIES TO AL­LIES

Ja­panese leader paid trib­ute to U.S. war dead with Obama

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE BOYER • This ar­ti­cle is based in part on wire ser­vice re­ports.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe ex­pressed “ev­er­last­ing con­do­lences” as he joined Pres­i­dent Obama at the USS Ari­zona Me­mo­rial on Tues­day to pay trib­ute to U.S. ser­vice mem­bers killed in the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor 75 years ago.

With Pres­i­dent Obama at his side, Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe paid trib­ute to U.S. war dead at Pearl Har­bor on Tues­day and of­fered “ev­er­last­ing con­do­lences” for the at­tack 75 years ago that killed 2,403 ser­vice mem­bers and pro­pelled Amer­ica into World War II.

With­out for­mally apol­o­giz­ing, Mr. Abe spoke of his “over­whelm­ing” emo­tions af­ter he vis­ited the USS Ari­zona me­mo­rial, where the re­mains of 1,177 sailors and Marines are still en­tombed un­der­wa­ter.

“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,” Mr. Abe said. “We must never re­peat the horrors of war again.”

Mr. Obama said the Ja­panese leader’s ges­ture served as a re­minder that “the most bit­ter of ad­ver­saries can be­come the strong­est of al­lies.”

In an ap­par­ent dig at Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and his back­ers, Mr. Obama said the prime min­is­ter’s visit of­fered a les­son in tol­er­ance and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

“It is here that we re­mem­ber that even when ha­tred burns hottest, even when the tug of trib­al­ism is at its most pri­mal, we must re­sist the urge to turn in­ward,” Mr. Obama said. “We must re­sist the urge to de­mo­nize those who are dif­fer­ent.”

The pres­i­dent also praised the U.S. Ja­pan al­liance for “slow­ing the spread of nu­clear weapons,” also seem­ingly a dig against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump claimed last week that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and ex­pand its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity un­til such time as the world comes to its senses re­gard­ing nukes.” Dur­ing the cam­paign, he seemed san­guine about the nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion, even sug­gest­ing that Ja­pan it­self could ac­quire nu­clear weapons.

The his­toric meet­ing was likely to be Mr. Obama’s last with a for­eign leader as pres­i­dent. It came six months af­ter Mr. Obama paid a sim­i­lar visit to Hiroshima, Ja­pan, where he be­came the first sit­ting U.S. pres­i­dent to see the site of the nu­clear bomb at­tack by the U.S. that helped to force Ja­pan’s sur­ren­der in 1945.

Al­though Ja­panese lead­ers have vis­ited Pearl Har­bor be­fore, Mr. Abe is the first to visit the me­mo­rial that now rests on the hal­lowed wa­ters above the sunken USS Ari­zona, where 1,177 sailors and Marines died dur­ing the aerial at­tack on Dec. 7, 1941.

At the me­mo­rial, which is reach­able only by boat, Mr. Abe and Mr. Obama walked into the shrine room where the names of Amer­i­can ser­vice mem­bers killed in the at­tacks are en­graved on a wall.

Af­ter paus­ing in front of two wreaths made of peace lilies, the lead­ers ex­ited the room and dropped pur­ple flower pe­tals into the water.

More than 1,000 Amer­i­cans also were wounded in the at­tack by more than 300 Ja­panese fighter planes and bombers.

Af­ter a year of pop­ulist re­volts in democ­ra­cies around the globe, Mr. Abe is one of the few prom­i­nent part­ners of Mr. Obama still hold­ing onto power.

The Ja­panese leader also has reached out to Mr. Trump, be­ing the first for­eign leader to meet with the pres­i­dent-elect af­ter his Nov. 8 vic­tory. Mr. Abe has re­quested to meet with Mr. Trump a week af­ter his in­au­gu­ra­tion, around Jan. 27.

Mr. Abe pledged that Ja­pan’s al­liance with the U.S. will re­main strong.

“We are al­lies that will tackle to­gether to an even greater de­gree than ever be­fore, the many chal­lenges cov­er­ing the globe,” Mr. Abe said. “What has bonded us to­gether is the power of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion made pos­si­ble through the spirit of tol­er­ance. The world needs the spirit of tol­er­ance and the power of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion now, and es­pe­cially now.”

Mr. Trump raised con­cerns in Ja­pan dur­ing the cam­paign by seem­ing to ques­tion to the U.S. com­mit­ment to Tokyo’s de­fense, and say­ing if Ja­pan had nu­clear weapons, “I’m not sure that would be a bad thing for us.”

The pres­i­dent-elect also has de­clared his op­po­si­tion to Mr. Obama’s Tran­sPa­cific Part­ner­ship, ef­fec­tively halt­ing a free-trade deal with Ja­pan and 10 other Pa­cific Rim na­tions in­tended to be an eco­nomic coun­ter­weight to China.

But the pres­i­dent-elect’s early meet­ing with Mr. Abe sug­gests that Mr. Trump also un­der­stands the im­por­tance of the U.S. al­liance with its for­mer wartime foe as his ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­pares to con­front wors­en­ing na­tional se­cu­rity chal­lenges with North Korea and China.

China crit­i­cized Mr. Abe’s visit as an in­sin­cere at­tempt to ab­solve Ja­pan of its wartime ag­gres­sion.

“Try­ing to liq­ui­date the his­tory of World War II by pay­ing a visit to Pearl Har­bor and con­sol­ing the dead is just wish­ful think­ing on Ja­pan’s part,” said Hua Chun­y­ing, a Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokes­woman in Bei­jing.

“Ja­pan can never turn this page over with­out rec­on­cil­i­a­tion from China and other vic­tim­ized coun­tries in Asia,” she said.

“It de­pends on who’s run­ning [in 2020]. It ap­pears we’re go­ing to have an old-folks’ home. We’ve got [El­iz­a­beth] War­ren; she’ll be 71. [Joseph R.] Bi­den will be 78. Bernie [San­ders] will be 79.”

— Re­tir­ing Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Harry Reid, in an in­ter­view with New York magazine, spec­u­lat­ing on the party’s ag­ing lineup of po­ten­tial pres­i­den­tial con­tenders in 2020 and the lack of younger can­di­dates in the party

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