Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he will visit Pearl Harbor later this month, the first time a Japanese leader has visited the U.S. naval base Tokyo bombed in a 1941 clandestine attack that precipitated the American entry into World War II.
Abe, speaking two days before the 75th anniversary of the attack, said he would visit the Pearl Harbor memorial with U.S. President Barack Obama to pray for the war dead, while also holding a final summit with the American leader before Obama leaves office next month.
Abe's visit to Hawaii on December 26 and 27 comes six months after Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the memorial at Hiroshima, the Japanese city where the U.S. detonated the world's first atomic bomb at the end of the war in 1945.
"We must never repeat the tragedy of the war," Abe said. "I would like to send this commitment. At the same time, I would like to send a message of reconciliation between Japan and the U.S."
The White House said "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."
More than 2,300 U.S. servicemen were killed in the Japanese aerial attack at Pearl Harbor, sinking the USS Arizona battleship, while damaging or destroying 20 other ships and 164 planes. The attack will be marked Wednesday by a remembrance ceremony and a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., when the Japanese planes first struck their targets.
Three and a half years later, the world war came to an end after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 210,000 people in the two attacks.
Abe was the first foreign leader to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, talking with him on a visit to New York last month.
Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.