More than 75 years later, remembrance and reconciliation are the themes as the Japanese prime minister visits Pearl Harbor on Tuesday, the first formal trip by a Japanese leader to the site where the world changed forever.
Both Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Obama will speak at the commemoration of the 1941 Japanese air attack that drew the United States into the Second World War. Abe landed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the historic visit on Monday.
Obama and Abe will also meet privately on the state of the U.S.-Japan alliance, one that could undergo stark changes after Donald Trump becomes president next month.
“The two leaders’ visit will showcase the power of reconciliation that has turned former adversaries into the closest of allies,” the White House said in announcing the visit earlier this month.
Obama and Abe plan to make remarks at the memorial built atop the bombed-out hull of the USS Arizona, which sank to the bottom of the harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
The attack, on what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called “a date which will live in infamy,” killed more than 2,400 Americans.
Abe is not expected apologize for the Pearl Harbor attack but is likely to express sympathy for the victims.
In announcing his visit earlier this month, the Japanese prime minister told reporters: “We must never repeat the horror of war … I want to express that determination as we look to the future, and at the same time send a message about the value of U.S.-Japanese reconciliation.”
The Obama-Abe meeting also takes place less a month before Obama leaves the White House and Trump enters, a development that will likely affect U.S.-Japanese relations.
During the presidential campaign, Trump talked about changing trade policies worldwide and requiring Japan and other allies to pay more for security assistance.
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SOURCE: USA Today, David Jackson