A day ahead of his historic visit to Pearl Harbor, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited several memorials in Hawaii on Monday (26 December) evening. His visit to the US naval base that was bombed by Japan in 1941, triggering America's entry to the Second World War, is expected to mark a reconciliation of ties between the two former rivals.
During this two-day Hawaii visit, Abe is also scheduled to have his last summit with outgoing US President Barack Obama before President-elect Donald Trump takes over the White House in January 2017. Oabma is currently spending his winter vacation in Hawaii - his birthplace.
"We must never repeat the devastation of war. Together with President Obama, I want to tell the world of this pledge for the future and of the value of reconciliation," Abe told reporters in Tokyo before departing for Honolulu.
Soon after reaching Hawaii, Abe headed to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu to pay his tribute to the people who died while serving in the US Armed Forces. He made no public remarks at the memorial and stood in silence before a wreath of flowers.
Accompanied by two of his cabinet members, the prime minister then visited the stone monuments at Makiki Cemetery in Honolulu – a tribute to Japanese who settled in Hawaii in the 1800s. The ministers bowed before the wreaths of white flowers and greenery laid at the feet of stone monuments, Reuters reported.
Next on Abe's schedule was the armed forces memorial located at Honolulu's Punchbowl Crater. He offered his tribute at the memorial by spending a moment of silence. He then signed a guestbook and stopped at the grave of former US senator Daniel Inouye, who fought in World War II in Europe. Inouye was born to Japanese parents.
Abe is not the first Japanese premier to visit Pearl Harbor. Three other prime ministers had been to the 1941 attack site in the past. However, the Japanese government claimed that their premier will be the first to be accompanied by a sitting US president while praying for the dead at the memorial built over the remains of the sunken US battleship, the USS Arizona.
The government has also made it clear that Abe will not offer any apologies for bombing the US naval base in 1941. Abe's visit to Pearl Harbor comes several months after Obama's visit to the Japanese city of Hiroshima - the first victim of nuclear bombing.