The japanese Prime minister shinzo Abe, second from left, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, second from right, and japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda, right, bow at the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park on Monday in Honolulu.
(AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – the Japanese Prime minister shinzo Abe wreaths were laid at the various cemeteries and memorials on Monday prior to a visit to the site of the 1941 bombing that plunged the United States into the second world War.
Abe landed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and then in the direction of National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where he laid a wreath. He stood for a moment of silence at the cemetery near the center of Honolulu, known as Punchbowl.
Later he has a visit to a nearby monument for nine boys and men who died when a U.S. Navy submarine collided with their Japanese fishing boat in 2001. At the Ehime Maru Memorial, he laid a wreath and bowed his head.
On Tuesday, he is the first Japanese prime minister to visit the memorial that honors sailors and Marines killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Japan, the former leader Yoshida Shigeru went to Pearl Harbor six years after the country’s world War ii surrender, but that was before the USS Arizona Memorial is built. Yoshida arrived in Pearl Harbor in 1951, shortly after requesting a free visit to the office of Adm. Arthur W. R. Radford, the commander of the U. S. Pacific fleet. The office overlooked Pearl Harbor, and offers a direct view of the attack site.
The memorial will be closed to the public, Tuesday, when Abe’s visit to the historic site, accompanied by U.S. President Barack Obama, who is on vacation in Hawaii with his family.
The importance of the visit can be, especially symbolic for the two countries, in a remarkable transformation, are grown in close allies in the decades since they faced off in violent conflict. At the same time, it is important that it took more than 70 years of AMERICAN-Japanese relations to get to this point.
Abe won’t apologize for the japanese attack when he visits, a spokesman of the government said earlier this month.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that “the purpose of the next visit is to pay respect for the war victims and not with the offer of an excuse.”
The visit comes six months after Obama became the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima for the victims of the U. S. atomic bombing of the city at the end of the same war.
Pearl Harbor survivor Alfred Rodrigues said Monday he welcomes the visit of the japanese top leader to Hawaii.
“I am happy that he is coming to show that we are all quiet now and you know, we did what we had to do and they did what they had to do,” he told The Associated Press.
Remembering the day of the attack in 1941, Rodrigues said that he had just sat down to breakfast when the alarm sounds, and the word came, ” your Man battle stations, this is not a drill,’ he recalled.
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“We all ran to the armory to get guns and ammunition, and we could see the planes above with the red circles on the bottom. We knew that the Japanese aircraft,” Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues says that he doesn’t think Abe should apologize. “War is war. I mean, they did what they had to do and we did what we had to do. I have no hatred at all towards them.