TOKYO (AA) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that he will visit Pearl Harbor later this month with United States President Barack Obama, becoming the first Japanese leader to travel to the site of a deadly attack by the country’s imperial forces that led to the U.S. joining World War II.
“We must never repeat the horrors of war. Looking to the future, I want to demonstrate that resolve to the world,” he told reporters at the prime minister’s office.
Kyodo news agency reported that Abe’s visit to the U.S. naval base, set to take place during a two-day trip to Hawaii starting Dec. 26, is intended “to console the souls of the victims” of Japan’s surprise attack Dec. 7, 1941.
In May, Obama had become the first serving American leader to visit Japan’s Hiroshima, the site of a U.S. atomic bombing that brought World War II to an end.
“I also want to make this an opportunity to send a message about the value of the reconciliation between Japan and the United States,” Abe was quoted as saying Monday.
“This will be our last leaders’ summit, the culmination of (our work) so far,” he added.
Obama is set to leave office in January, when President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated.
In August, Abe’s wife Akie Abe had visited a memorial site commemorating some of those killed in the 1941 attack, laying flowers at the USS Arizona Memorial on Oahu Island — which marks the site where more than 1,100 American sailors and marines lost their lives.
The attack on Pearl Harbor left more than 2,400 U.S. troops and civilians dead.
Japan has never apologized for its surprise attack, nor has a leader visited the USS Arizona Memorial site.