Abe’s Hawaii visit for 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor made history

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s last trip to Hawaii in 2016, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, was an important and unprecede
Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 12:42 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 8, 2022 at 1:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s last trip to Hawaii in 2016, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, was an important and unprecedented visit that signified the strength of U.S.-Japan relations and how far the two nations have come since World War II.

Abe, who was assassinated Friday, was Japan’s prime minister at the time of his visit to Pearl Harbor. Though he wasn’t the first Japanese leader to visit the site, he was the first to set foot on the memorial that catalogs the toll of the attack.

In a powerful gesture of reconciliation, Abe joined then-President Barack Obama to lay wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial and tell a gathered crowd that Japan “must never repeat the horrors of war again.”

Abe stopped short of apologizing for the attack on Pearl Harbor during his visit but said the visit was an opportunity to “soothe the souls of the victims.”

“As the prime minister of Japan, I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place,” he said, using a translator.

His visit came months after Obama traveled to Hiroshima to pay his respects to the thousands who died there.

Obama on Friday wrote on Twitter that he was “shocked” and “saddened” by the death of his friend and longtime partner — and would never forget the work they did to strengthen U.S.-Japan ties.

While on Oahu during that same trip, Abe visited a memorial to those who died when a U.S. Navy submarine collided with a Japanese high school fishing vessel Ehime Maru 15 years ago. Nine boys and men died when the USS Greeneville rammed the fishing vessel off Oahu in February 2001.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono also expressed her condolences, saying she is shocked and deeply saddened by his death.

“As an immigrant born in Japan, I join President Biden and stand with the Japanese people during this time,” she said, in a statement.

“We will honor Prime Minister Abe’s legacy by continuing to work to strengthen our relationship with Japan, which is a critical ally in protecting the security of the Indo-Pacific region and plays a vital role in Hawaii’s economy and culture.”

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