PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – Under a warm Oahu sun, with the quiet, blue green waters of Pearl Harbor behind them, former enemies came together to recognize the immense loss to the Japanese attack on U.S. military facilities in Hawaii 75 years ago.
“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 the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives of a war that has begun, in this place,” the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, said on Tuesday.
Putting 75 years of resentment behind it, Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama made a historic pilgrimage to the place where the devastating surprise attack sent America marches in the second world war.
After a formal meeting, to which they placed a pair of green-peach-wreaths of lilies aboard the USS Arizona Memorial and threw purple petals in the water.
The rusting wreck of the sunken vessel where more than 1,000 American service members are entombed can be seen just under the surface of the water.
Obama and Abe closed her eyes and stood still for a few moments before the conclusion of their visit to the memorial and in the direction of the near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, where both leaders spoke.
The visit is a strong proof that the former enemies have transcended the recriminatory impulses, burdened relations after the war, Japan’s government has said. Although Japanese leaders visited Pearl Harbor before, Abe will be the first to visit the memorial built on the Holy waters above the sunken USS Arizona.
For Obama, it’s probably the last time he meets with a foreign leader, the President, White House aides said. It is a bookend of sorts for the President, the invited almost eight years to be Abe’s predecessor, the first leader, he is a guest in the White house.
For Abe, it was an act of symbolic reciprocity is, in the next six months, after Obama became the first sitting US President to visit in Hiroshima in Japan, where the United States was a nuclear bomb, in the hope to end the war, he joined after Pearl Harbor.
“This visit, and the visit of the President in Hiroshima earlier this year, would not have been possible eight years ago,” said Daniel Kritenbrink, Obama’s top Asia adviser in the White house. “We are here today, the result of the year long efforts at all levels of our government and companies, which has allowed us to jointly and directly, even with the most sensitive aspects of our common history.”
More than 2,300 Americans died on Dec. 7, 1941, when more than 300 Japanese fighter planes and bombers attacked. More than 1,000 were injured.
In the following years, the United States, approximately 120,000 Americans imprisoned Japanese ancestry in the internment camp before the atomic bombs of 1945 killed about 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki.
Abe is not going to apologize for Pearl Harbor, its government has said. Yet Obama apologize for Hiroshima in may, a visit that he and Abe used to emphasize their elusive aspirations for a nuclear weapons-free future.
No apology necessary, said 96-year-old Alfred Rodrigues, a U.S. Navy veteran who survived what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a “date which will live in infamy.”
“War is war”, Rodrigues said, when he saw old photos of his military service. “You did what you should do, and we do what we should do.”
S not Abe’s visit is not without political risk, the Japanese long, emotional settlement with their nation’s aggression in the war. Although the history books have largely persisted as the Pearl Harbor surprise attack, the Japanese government, it was only this month that it had intended to give the US announcement that it declared war, and only failed because of the “bureaucratic blunders.”
“It is this feeling of guilt, if you will, among the Japanese, this “Pearl Harbor syndrome”, that we have something very unfair,” said Tamaki Tsukada, minister in the Japanese Embassy in Washington. “I think that the Prime Minister-to relieve the visitor in a sense, the kind of complex that Japanese people have.”
Since the war, the United States and Japan, a mighty Alliance, say both sides, is grown to have built, during Obama’s term in office, including increased military-to-military relations. Both Obama and Abe are the driving force behind the Trans-Pacific nership, a sweeping free-trade deal were now on, because of staunch opposition by the Congress and President-elect Donald Trump.
Goes beyond the painful legacy of the war was easier for Japan and the United States than for Japan and other former enemies, such as South Korea and China. When Abe arrived in Hawaii, Beijing dismissed as “wish the idea of thinking”, that Japan could “liquidate the history of the second world war” by visiting Pearl Harbor.
“Japan can never on this site without the reconciliation from China and other countries, victims are in Asia,” said Hua Chunying, the Chinese foreign Ministry spokeswoman.