Japan's prime minister has returned from what looks at first blush to have been a very successful personal mission to reinforce to the American audience that "Japan is back," and to remind Americans that Japan stands today, 70 years after the end of World War II, as one of America's closest allies.
As the daughter of a 20-year-old navy ensign who served aboard the USS Missouri eight months after Japan's formal signed surrender aboard the battleship, the close relations between the United States and Japan today are nothing short of a marvel.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's congressional speech was designed to humanize a man whose political rhetoric often reflects a militaristic and masculine view of Japan's past. True to form, he began his speech referencing his maternal grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who served as Japan's 56th and 57th prime minister. He quoted from Kishi's 1957 speech to the U.S. House of Representatives: "It is because of our strong belief in democratic principles and ideals that Japan associates herself with the free nations of the world."