TOKYO, Dec. 5 (UPI) — Shinzo Abe will become the first Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor when he travels to the site in late December to pay tribute to victims of Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, attack.
In a statement, Abe said he would visit Hawaii on Dec. 26-27 to pray for the dead at Pearl Harbor. He is expected to visit the site along with U.S. President Barack Obama.
“We must never repeat the tragedy of the war,” Abe said. “I would like to send this commitment. At the same time, I would like to send a message of reconciliation between Japan and the U.S.”
Abe’s announcement comes two days before the 75th anniversary of the attack in which more than 2,300 U.S. servicemembers and dozens of civilians were killed. The surprise attack propelled the United States into the Second World War.
“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.
In May, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, where more than 80,000 people were killed when the United States dropped a nuclear bomb to force a Japanese surrender at the end of WWII.
“Seventy-one years ago on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” Obama then said at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. “A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.”