Shinzo Abe will be first Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor

He and Obama will visit site of the Japanese attack 75 years ago that drew US into war

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will visit Pearl Harbor this month with US president Barack Obama, becoming his country's first leader to travel to the site of the Japanese attack 75 years ago that drew the United States into the second World War.

“This will be a visit to console the souls of the victims,” said Mr Abe. “I would like to show to the world the resolve that horrors of war should never be repeated.”

The December 26th-27th visit will come seven months after Mr Obama became the first serving US president to visit the Japanese city of Hiroshima, on which the United States dropped an atomic bomb in the closing days of the war, in 1945.

Mr Abe will hold his final summit meeting with the outgoing US president during the trip to Hawaii.


Mr Obama has close ties to the Hawaiian island state where he was born and where he and his family have holidayed throughout his White House term.

Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor with torpedo planes, bombers and fighter planes on the morning of December 7th, 1941, bombing the US fleet moored there in the hope of destroying US power in the Pacific.

Power of reconciliation

The attack led to the United States entering the second World War and the eventual defeat of Japan in August 1945, days after US atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The White House said Mr Abe’s visit would highlight the alliance between the former wartime enemies.

“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,” the White House said in a statement.

Mr Abe last year spoke to the US Congress and expressed “deep repentance” over Japan’s role in the second World War.

An outright apology from Mr Abe would be unlikely during his Pearl Harbor visit, said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University's Japan campus.

“He won’t go as far as to apologise, but there will be a demonstration of contrition. He will follow Obama’s model” in Hiroshima, Mr Kingston said. “Obama has shown the way forward in addressing the past without whitewashing and denying.”

In Hiroshima, Mr Obama reiterated his commitment to pursuing a world without nuclear weapons, while avoiding any direct expression of remorse or apology for the US nuclear bombings.

– Reuters