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Japan’s prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor

Japan’s prime minister will help commemorate the 75th anniversary of the country’s attack on Pearl Harbor when he visits the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on December 27, the Associated Press reports, citing a news service in Japan.

Japanese officials pointed out, however, that the visit is not meant to apologize for the surprise attack that led the US into World War II in the Pacific, but to honor the men and woman who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, or simply Pearl Harbor Day, is observed annually in the US every December 7, to remember and honor the 2,403 US citizens killed in the Japanese surprise attack.

Earlier today, the NHK World news service reported that Japan’s Defense Minister Tomomi Inada met with US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in Tokyo, where it was Wednesday already. The Japan-US alliance has strengthened in recent years, the defense minister said, and Mr Carter called that bond the cornerstone of stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Combined with President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima six months ago, when he became the first sitting president to visit the site of the dropping of an atomic bomb, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor will complete the reconciliation process and help smooth bilateral relations under the new administration.

“Historical disputes tend to be brought up when relations become thorny,” FOX News quoted Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior research fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, as saying. “But once you put them behind and move on, it makes a difference if there is any negative sentiment in the future.”

USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

“We must never repeat the tragedy of the war,” Mr Abe said through a translator. “I would like to send this commitment. At the same time, I would like to send a message of reconciliation between Japan and the US.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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