Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic visit to Pearl Harbor Tuesday, offering condolences to the thousands killed in the Japanese sneak attack 75 years ago.
Abe’s visit comes seven months after President Barack Obama traveled to Hiroshima to pay his respects to the thousands who died there. The two leaders used the ceremony to affirm their nations’ alliance, with Obama calling for people to “resist the urge to turn inward,” perhaps a reference to President-elect Donald Trump and calls around the globe for nations to reconsider their international dependencies.
As expected, Abe did not apologize for the attack on Pearl Harbor but did offer what he called “sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls” of those who were lost on December 7, 1941. He said the Japanese had taken a “solemn vow” to never again wage war.
“We must never repeat the horrors of war again,” Abe warned the audience, with the USS Arizona Memorial behind him.
In his speech, Obama reflected on the events at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago while also paying tribute to the restored relations between Japan and the United States.
He told the audience, including survivors of the event, “our alliance has never been stronger.”
“The United States and Japan chose friendship and they chose peace. Over the decades, our alliances have made the nations more successful,” Obama said. “Today, the alliance between the United States and Japan, bound not only by shared interests but also rooted in common values, stands as the cornerstone of peace and civility in the Asian-Pacific and a force for progress around the globe, our alliance has never been stronger. In good times and in bad we’re there for each other.”
He added: “It is here that we remember that, even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different,” remarks that could be seen as a reference to Trump.
Abe spoke about paying tribute to what happened at Pearl Harbor, calling it a “symbol of reconciliation.”
“It is my wish that our Japanese children, and President Obama, your American children, and indeed their children and grandchildren, and people all around the world, will continue to remember Pearl Harbor as the symbol of reconciliation,” Abe said. “We will spare no efforts to continue our endeavors to make that wish a reality. Together with President Obama, I hereby make my steadfast pledge.”
The White House said that the visit by the two leaders would “showcase the power of reconciliation” that turned one-time adversaries into “the closest of allies.”
The leaders participated in a wreath-laying ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial and delivered remarks at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Tuesday.
Abe and Obama also held their last bilateral meeting together Tuesday. They discussed security, economic and global challenges, according to the White House.
The bilateral meeting was one of Obama’s final meetings with a world leader.
When Obama visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, he did not apologize for the the United States dropping the nuclear bomb but instead came to honor the dead and call for a “world without nuclear weapons.”
Abe did not apologize for the attack on Pearl Harbor but said in a statement ahead of his remarks that the visit would be an opportunity to “soothe the souls of the victims.”