Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would visit Pearl Harbor, the US naval base in Hawaii which was bombed by Imperial Japanese Navy on 7 December 1941. Abe wil make the historic visit during his two-day trip to the island., starting 25 December – two weeks after the 75th anniversary of the bombing that changed the course of the World War II. President Barack Obama will accompany the Japanese leader during the visit.
Observers believe the Japanese move came as a response to Obama's historic call on Hiroshima, where the US dropped a nuclear bomb in 1945 which killed thousands. They also say that the prime minister's visit, also the first by a Japanese leader, is part of an effort to accept the wartime history and bitter relation between the two countries without directly apologising to each other.
"We must never repeat the horror of war," said Abe on Monday in a news conference, reported New York Times. "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," he added.
This decision of Abe comes after he expressed regret to the US congress about Japan's involvement in World War II last year. Moreover, the White House also welcomed the prime minister's call. In a statement, the office said Abe's visit to Pear Harbour would strengthen and highlight the alliance between the former wartime enemies.
"The two leaders' visit will showcase the power of reconciliation that has turned former adversaries into the closest of allies, united by common interests and shared values," said the statement, the Telegraph reported.
The naval base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes damaging eight US Navy battleships and killing more than 2000 people. The attack also sank three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and one minelayer. Japan claimed that it carried out the attack to keep the United States Pacific Fleet from interfering with the kingdom's attempts to overthrow the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States in the Southeast Asia.
The attack is of historical significance not only for the political reasons or the amount of damage it brought but for being the event which prompted US to enter World War II.
Abe is visiting Hawaii, which is Obama's birthplace, to hold his final summit meeting with the outgoing US president.