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At Pearl Harbor, Japanese Prime Minister Offers “Condolences”

December 28, 2016

On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the US naval base at Pearl Harbor where Japan executed a surprise attack 75 years ago this month. The Japanese PM offered his “sincere and everlasting condolences,” but no apology, to the 2,403 Americans killed and 1,178 wounded on December 7, 1941 and vowed that the the two Nations would never be at war again.

“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,” Abe said during a speech at the naval base. President Obama stood by his side. Tuesday was the first time in the 75 years since the attack that a Japanese leader and an American leader have never visited the site of Pearl Harbor together.

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“We must never repeat the horrors of war again, this is the solemn vow the people of Japan have taken. To the souls of the US servicemen who lie aboard the USS Arizona, to the American people, and all people around the world, I pledge that unwavering vow,” he continued.

“It is my wish that our Japanese children, and President Obama, your American children, and indeed their children and grandchildren, and people all around the world, will continue to remember Pearl Harbor as the symbol of reconciliation,” Abe said. “We will spare no efforts to continue our endeavors to make that wish a reality. Together with President Obama, I hereby make my steadfast pledge.”

President Obama also paid tribute to victims of that horrific day and acknowledged that the “alliance has never been stronger” between the two nations.

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“The United States and Japan chose friendship and they chose peace. Over the decades, our alliances have made the nations more successful,” Obama said. “Today, the alliance between the United States and Japan, bound not only by shared interests but also rooted in common values, stands as the cornerstone of peace and civility in the Asian-Pacific and a force for progress around the globe, our alliance has never been stronger. In good times and in bad we’re there for each other.”

“That morning the ranks on those men’s shoulders reflected them less than the courage in their hearts,” President Obama continued.

Obama laid a wreath on “waters that still weep” with “In Remembrance, Barack Obama, President of the United States” written on it. “In Remembrance, Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan” was written on the other. The two leaders then threw rose petals into the water.

Following their speech, the two leaders greeted US Veterans who survived the attack at Pearl Harbor and PM Abe offered some warm embraces.

Earlier this year, Obama became the first sitting US President to visit the site of Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atom bomb in 1945 to end the second world war. Though other Japanese leaders have stopped by to pay their respects, PM Abe is the only leader to do so with the sitting US President as well as the only one who has seen the USS Arizona Memorial since it was built in 1962.