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Not the first: Abe’s predecessor visited Pearl Harbor in 1951

  • FILE – In this May 3, 1962 file photo, U.S. President John F. Kennedy, right, meets with former Japanese prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru in his White House office in Washington. The news media widely reported this week that minister shinzo Abe will be the first Japanese premier to visit Pearl Harbor, when he goes later this month _ but he can’t be. A 1951 article in Japan’s largest newspaper says that the then prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru went to Pearl Harbor during a stopover in Hawaii on the way home from San Francisco, where he signed a peace treaty with the allies and other countries. (AP Photo/William J. Smith, File)

    (Associated Press)

  • FILE – In this Sept. 8, 1951, file photo, japanese prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru signs Security Treaty gives the U.S. the right to maintain, sea, air and land military bases in and about Japan, in San Francisco. The news media widely reported this week that minister shinzo Abe will be the first Japanese premier to visit Pearl Harbor, when he goes later this month _ but he can’t be. A 1951 article in Japan’s largest newspaper says that the then prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru went to Pearl Harbor during a stopover in Hawaii on the way home from San Francisco, where he signed a peace treaty with the allies and other countries. (AP Photo/File)

    (Associated Press)

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TOKYO – The media widely reported this week that minister shinzo Abe will be the first Japanese premier to visit Pearl Harbor, when he goes later this month, but he will not be.

In 1951, when prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru a brief visit during a stopover in Hawaii on the way home from San Francisco, where he signed a peace treaty with the Allies and other countries.

An Associated Press story dated Sept. 13, 1951, says Yoshida, “yesterday, paid the first official Japanese call Pearl Harbor since Dec. 7, 1941.” It says he spent about 20 minutes there, and posed for photos with Adm. Arthur W. R. Radford, the commander of the U. S. Pacific fleet.

Yomiuri, Japan’s largest daily newspaper, noted on Tuesday that they had written about Yoshida’s visit to Pearl Harbor in 1951.

The Japanese government confirmed that Yoshida was in Honolulu, but said that there is no official record of him going to Pearl Harbor, the AMERICAN Naval base attacked by Japan in 1941.

The confusion sent officials scrambling to set the record straight. Experts in the japanese diplomatic archives, went through the massive volumes of microfiche Thursday, looking for any evidence that Yoshida had a foot in Pearl Harbor, but came up empty.

Abe announced Monday that he would visit Pearl Harbor with the US President Barack Obama on Dec. 27 to pay respects to the war victims, and send a message of reconciliation.

Both the Japanese and international media, including The Associated Press reported that it would be the first visit by a sitting Japanese prime minister.

A Honolulu-dated Yomiuri article from 1951, says Yoshida looked “deeply moved when he visited Radford on Pearl Harbor.”

The same day, he also met Hawaii, the vice-governor and the army commander, went for an afternoon walk and enjoyed the souvenir shop, the newspaper said.

On the way to San Francisco, Yoshida also stopped in Hawaii, and laid flowers at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, a military cemetery known as the Punchbowl, said Motosada Matano, a vice-minister for public affairs.

What exactly is it about Abe’s upcoming visit to Pearl Harbor, a reporter for the rival Asahi newspaper asked at a Foreign Ministry briefing Wednesday.

The USS Arizona Memorial is not yet built in 1951, so the official line is that Abe will be the first sitting prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor memorial, Matano said.

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