During Pearl Harbor visit with Obama, Shinzo Abe offers no apology but pledges ‘not to wage war again’Outgoing US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday visited Pearl Harbor where more than 2,300 people were killed in Tokyo's December 7, 1941 attack on the US Navy base in Hawaii.
Outgoing US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday visited Pearl Harbor where more than 2,300 people were killed in Tokyo's December 7, 1941 attack on the US Navy base in Hawaii.
Offering condolences, the no-apology tour served no more than a political show from Abe who pledged that ‘Japan will never wage war again’.
Though the Japanese government billed Abe's visit as a tour of reconciliation, it aimed to strengthen Japanese-US alliance amid uncertainty in the upcoming Donald Trump administration.
Calling himself ‘entirely speechless’ when standing at the Pearl Harbour memorial constructed on the sunken USS Arizona, Abe acknowledged that the US and Japan fought a fierce war ‘that will go down in the annuls of human history’.
However, except from offering his "sincere and everlasting condolences" to the souls of the Americans killed by troops of the Japanese Imperial Empire, no apology from Abe was issued.
As many as 2,403 Americans were killed, about 20 US vessels were sunk or damaged and over 300 US aircrafts were damaged or destroyed when more than 350 Japanese warplanes launched stealth attacks on December 7, 1941..
The attack came as a shock to the Americans and directly led to the US entry into World War II. Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, after the US dropped atom bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Abe's decision to visit Pearl Harbour came about six months after Obama visited Hiroshima.
Obama, speaking after he and Abe laid green-and-peach wreaths at the memorial, called the harbour a sacred place and said that ‘even the deepest wounds of war can give way to friendship and lasting peace’.
Pointing the strength of US-Japan ties, Obama said, "The United States and Japan chose friendship and they chose peace. Our alliance has never been stronger. In good times and in bad we're there for each other.”
Since the war, the US and Japan have built a powerful alliance that both sides say has grown during Obama's tenure, including strengthened military ties. Yet there are questions about whether the relationship will degenerate under President-elect Donald Trump, a possibility neither Obama nor Abe addressed.