Tokyo: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to become the first Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor, announcing today a trip to Hawaii this month for talks with US President Barack Obama.
“I will visit Pearl Harbor” with Obama, he told reporters in comments broadcast live on television.
Abe, who will be in Hawaii on December 26 and 27, will visit the site of the surprise Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, that began World War II in the Pacific.
The Hawaii visit comes after Obama in May journeyed to Hiroshima, the Japanese city where a US plane dropped the world’s first atom bomb in the closing chapter of World War II. Nagasaki was bombed several days later.
Obama’s trip had sparked speculation that Abe could visit Pearl Harbor in response, though the government had previously denied that was under consideration.
Abe’s wife Akie visited Pearl Harbor in August and said on Facebook that she offered flowers and prayers at the USS Arizona Memorial.
On the day of the bombing 75 years ago, Japanese planes swept low over the US naval base, killing more than 2,400 American troops and civilians, a date which then-president Franklin Roosevelt declared would live in “infamy”.
The two-hour bombardment of the US Pacific Fleet at anchor sank or damaged some 20 ships and destroyed 164 planes.