Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s historic visit to Pearl Harbor later this month is for the purpose of remembering the victims of the Japanese attack 75 years ago, not for apologizing for Japan’s actions, the government’s top spokesman said Tuesday.
“This visit is an opportunity to remember those who died in war, demonstrate a resolve that the horrors of war must never be repeated, and at the same time send a message about the reconciliation between Japan and the United States,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.
Abe will become the first serving Japanese prime minister to visit the site of the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941, that brought the United States into World War II.
“The prime minister said everything there is to say about his feelings on the war in his statement in August last year to mark 70 years since the end of the war,” Suga said.
Abe’s visit to Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27 comes after Barack Obama in May became the first serving U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, which was devastated by a U.S. nuclear attack on Aug. 6, 1945, in the final phase of World War II.
But Suga said the Pearl Harbor visit is “not linked” to Obama’s Hiroshima trip.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday he will accompany Abe to Hawaii, where the prime minister will also hold his last talks with Obama, who leaves office in January.
Serving as the culmination of the two leaders’ efforts to build the Japan-U.S. alliance over the past four years, the meeting will “show the big role that the Japan-U.S. alliance plays for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the international community,” Kishida said.
The attacks on the Pearl Harbor naval base on the island of Oahu in Hawaii killed around 2,400 U.S. military personnel and civilians. Several dozen Japanese personnel also died.
Asked what sort of message Japan and the United States plan to send regarding the significance of Pearl Harbor, Suga indicated it is up to historians to make such judgments.