Japan's Abe departs for visit to Pearl Harbour

Japan's Abe departs for visit to Pearl Harbour
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presents a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe departed Monday for Hawaii where he will visit Pearl Harbour with US President Barack Obama as the two countries highlight decades of post-World War II reconciliation.

Abe's visit to the site, which was bombed by Japan in a surprise attack in December 1941 that drew the United States into World World II, was announced earlier this month.

It follows a journey Obama made with him in May to the city of Hiroshima where a US plane dropped the world's first atom bomb as the war drew to a close in 1945.

"I am visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to commemorate victims as the prime minister of Japan, as the representative of the Japanese people," Abe told reporters at Tokyo's Haneda airport.

Read Also: Survivors commemorate 73rd anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

"We must not repeat the horror of war ever again. Together with President Obama, I would like to express to the world this pledge for the future and the value of reconciliation."

The two leaders hope that their joint visits will underscore the alliance between their two nations forged in the years following the war.

They will meet Tuesday in Honolulu for a summit before venturing together to Pearl Harbour to visit the wreck of the USS Arizona, where 1,177 sailors and Marines died.

Japan PM Abe visits Pearl Harbour to mark anniversary

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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined US President Barack Obama for a symbolic joint visit to Pearl Harbor, commemorating World War Two dead and pledging that Japan would never wage war again.

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    Abe and Obama commemorated the dead at the USS Arizona Memorial, built over the remains of the sunken battleship.

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    Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to visit the memorial, a centerpiece of the historic site.

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    "We must never repeat the horrors of war again. This is the solemn vow we, the people of Japan, have taken," Abe said.

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    After their remarks, both leaders greeted US veterans who survived the attack.

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    Obama, who earlier this year became the first incumbent US president to visit Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945, called Abe's visit a "historic gesture "that was "a reminder that even the deepest wounds of war can give way to friendship and a lasting peace."

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    The two leaders stood solemnly in front of a wall inscribed with the names of those who died in the 1941 attack and they took part in a brief wreath-laying ceremony, followed by a moment of silence.

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    "To the souls of the servicemen who lie in eternal rest aboard the USS Arizona, to the American people, and to all the peoples around the world, I pledge that unwavering vow here as the prime minister of Japan," he said.

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    Japan hopes to present a strong alliance with the United States amid concerns about China's expanding military capability.

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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe smiles as he talks with Director of the National Memorial of the Pacific James Horton (R) before presenting a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows his head after presenting a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presents a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kristina Calla salutes before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presents a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Director of the National Memorial of the Pacific James Horton (center R) walk to present a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    The wreath presented by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen at the grave of U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    The U.S. military Color Guard post the "Colors" along with the Japanese flag at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presents a wreath at the grave of U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Director of the National Memorial of the Pacific James Horton (R) observe a moment's silence as "Taps" are played after presenting a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signs the guest book as Director of the National Memorial of the Pacific James Horton(L) holds down the page after presenting a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

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    U.S. President Frankin Delano Roosevelt signs the declaration of war on Japan in Washington, DC, U.S. December 8, 1941.

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    The battleship USS Arizona, which was sunk during the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, is seen at sea with President Herbert Hoover on board off Hampton Roads, Virginia, U.S. in March 1931.

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    A Marine rifle squad fires a volley over the bodies of fifteen officers and men killed at Naval Air Station Kanoehe Bay during the raid the previous day at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 8, 1941.

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    Ship's Chief Petty Officers listen to the radio broadcast of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's address to the Congress requesting a declaration of War against the Axis powers, December 8, 1941.

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    A model made for a Japanese propaganda film on the Pearl Harbor raid, showing ships located as they were during the December 7, 1941 attack, is seen in a photograph which was brought back to the U.S. from Japan at the end of World War II by Rear Admiral John Shafroth.

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    The body of a sailor killed during the Japanese air attack at Naval Air Station Kanoehe Bay lies on the shoreline, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    A wrecked U.S. Army Air Corps B-17C bomber lies at Hickam Air Field, following the end of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    Sailors attempt to save a burning PBY amphibious aircraft at during the Japanese raid on Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii December 7, 1941.

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    The destroyers USS Downes and USS Cassin lie wrecked in Drydock One ahead of the battleship USS Pennsylvania soon after the end of the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    The destroyers USS Downes and USS Cassin lie wrecked in Drydock One ahead of the battleship USS Pennsylvania soon after the end of the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    The forward superstructure of the sunken battleship USS Arizona burns after the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

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    Sailors in a motor launch rescue a survivor from the water alongside the sunken battleship USS West Virginia during or shortly after the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    Gunners on board the minesweeper USS Avocet look for more Japanese planes, at about the time the air raid ended on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    A Japanese Type 00 (Zero) fighter with markings from the carrier Akagi is seen after it crashed during the attack at Fort Kamehameha, near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    The crew of the Japanese carrier Shokaku cry Banzai as a Type 97 Kate carrier attack plane takes off as the second wave attack is launched on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    U.S. Marines await the possible return of Japanese aircraft on the parade ground at the Pearl Harbor Marine Barracks, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    The damaged battleship USS California, listing to port after being hit by Japanese aerial torpedoes and bombs, is seen off Ford Island during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    A Japanese Type 00 (Zero) carrier fighter trails smoke after it was hit by anti-aircraft fire during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    Flak bursts of anti-aircraft shells pepper the skyline above rising smoke from the battleship USS Arizona during the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    A Japanese Navy Type 99 Val carrier bomber is seen in action during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    The battleship USS Arizona burns on Battleship Row, beside Ford Island in an aerial photo taken from a Japanese aircraft during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    The forward magazines of the destroyer USS Shaw explode after a bombing attack by Japanese planes on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    The forward magazine of the destroyer USS Shaw explodes during the second Japanese attack wave on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    A Japanese bomber aircraft is seen in the foreground of an aerial photograph taken by a Japanese pilot during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    An officer on the Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku watches as planes take off to attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    A Japanese Navy Type 97 Kate carrier attack plane takes off from the aircraft carrier Shokaku, en route to attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    A chart identifying ship mooring locations and entitled (at upper left) "Report on positions of enemy fleet at anchorage", is seen after it was recovered from a Japanese aircraft that was downed during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    Japanese Navy Type 99 Val carrier bombers prepare to take off from an aircraft carrier to attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. December 7, 1941.

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    An aerial photograph taken the year before the Japanese raid shows the East Loch and the the Fleet Air Base on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S. May 3, 1940.

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    This US Navy file image shows an overall view of ships burning and sinking after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

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    This file photo shows the USS Arizona making its way out of the channel of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1940.

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    This December 7, 1941 file photo obtained from the US Naval Historical Center shows the USS Arizona, sunk and burning furiously. Her forward magazines had exploded when she was hit by a Japanese bomb. Shown at (L), are men on the stern of USS Tennessee as they move fire hoses on the water to force burning oil away from their ship. Seventy-five years after Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,403 Americans, a group of forensic scientists in Hawaii is still working to identify the remains of the dead. A jumble of skulls, bones and teeth deemed unidentifiable in the years following the devastating attack are now being linked to missing sailors and Marines, thanks to advances in DNA testing.

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    This US Navy file image shows The USS Arizona afire and sinking after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The Arizona went down entombing 1,177 crewmembers. Seventy-five years after Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,403 Americans, a group of forensic scientists in Hawaii is still working to identify the remains of the dead. A jumble of skulls, bones and teeth deemed unidentifiable in the years following the devastating attack are now being linked to missing sailors and Marines, thanks to advances in DNA testing.

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    This US Navy file image shows The USS Arizona afire and sinking after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The Arizona went down entombing 1,177 crewmembers. Seventy-five years after Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,403 Americans, a group of forensic scientists in Hawaii is still working to identify the remains of the dead. A jumble of skulls, bones and teeth deemed unidentifiable in the years following the devastating attack are now being linked to missing sailors and Marines, thanks to advances in DNA testing.

The ship's rusting remains are now a memorial.

The two-hour attack killed 2,403 Americans in all, injured more than 1,100 others and sank or heavily damaged eight US battleships.

Officials have said that the purpose of Abe's visit is not to apologise but rather to pay homage to the victims and encourage historical reflection, as Obama did in Hiroshima.

Read Also: Aging survivors mark Pearl Harbor 70th anniversary

It also comes at a delicate time with Obama due to hand over power to US President-elect Donald Trump next month.

The New York real-estate magnate sent shockwaves through Japan during the campaign when he appeared to question the US-Japan security alliance.

He said that Japan should pay more to support US troops stationed in the country and could even consider developing its own nuclear weapons.

Though he later walked back on the comments, they jolted public opinion in the world's only country to ever be attacked with atomic bombs.

Abe became the first world leader to meet Trump after the election, rushing to New York to confirm the importance of the relationship.

 

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