Pres. Obama and P.M. Abe Hail Reconciliation At Pearl Harbor The Leaders of War-Time Enemies America and Japan
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) made a historic visit to Pearl Harbor on Dec. 27, 2016, offering condolences to the thousands killed in the Japanese sneak attack 75 years ago. Abe's visit comes seven months after President Barack Obama (right) traveled to Hiroshima to pay his respects to the thousands who died there. The two leaders used the ceremony to affirm their nations' alliance, with Obama calling for people to "resist the urge to turn inward," perhaps a reference to President-elect Donald Trump and calls around the globe for nations to reconsider their international dependencies.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Abe hailed the countries reconciliation at Pearl Harbor. The leaders of war-time enemies America and Japan made a poignant joint pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor on Dec. 27, 2016, issuing symbolic declarations about the power of reconciliation and warning against the drumbeat of conflict. According to the foreign news agencies AP and AFP, seventy-five years after Japanese naval air power took the fires of war to idyllic Hawaii and dragged the United States into the Second World War, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered his "sincere and everlasting condolences". The pair paid homage to the more than 2,400 Americans killed on Dec. 7, 1941, delivering a wreath of peace lilies and standing in silence before a shrine to those lost on the USS Arizona - roughly half of all those killed. Abe's visit is a high-profile mark of contrition by a leader for whom Japan's wartime past is often a sensitive domestic issue. "We must never repeat the horrors of war," he said. "What has bonded us together is the power of reconciliation, made possible through the spirit of tolerance." Mr. Obama - who last May made a pilgrimage to Hiroshima, the target of a U.S. nuclear bomb that effectively ended the war - issued his own remarks that rang with history and America's current hypercharged politics. Just as when Obama visited Hiroshima, the purpose of Abe's tour is not to question decisions made three-quarters of a century ago, or to offer an apology, rather to pay homage to the victims and encourage historical reflection. In Hiroshima in May, during a speech given to a completely silent crowd, Obama launched an impassioned plea for a world without nuclear arms and he wrote a message in the visitor book at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. "We have known the agony of war. Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons," he wrote. "I welcome you here in the spirit of friendship," he told Mr. Abe. "I hope that, together, we send a message to the world that there is more to be won in peace than in war, that reconciliation carries more rewards than retribution." "Even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward," said Mr. Obama against the backdrop of the USS Arizona memorial. "We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different." Abe laid wreaths at various cemeteries and memorials on December 26 ahead of his visit to the site of the 1941 bombing that plunged the United States into World War II. He landed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam and then headed to National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where he laid a wreath. He stood for a moment of silence at the cemetery near downtown Honolulu, which is known as Punchbowl. He later visited a nearby memorial for nine boys and men who died when a U.S. Navy submarine collided with their Japanese fishing vessel in 2001. At the Ehime Maru Memorial, he again laid a wreath and bowed his head. Abe finished his day with a reception dinner at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu where he spoke about his visit. The meeting between the two leaders comes as Mr. Obama prepares to leave office and with Mr. Abe leading Japan into uncharted waters after remarks by incoming U.S. President Donald Trump clouded US-Japanese relations. Seven months after President Obama visited Hiroshima (on May 27), the city where World War II all but ended, Prime Minster Abe was paying his respects at the site where the brutal conflict began. Abe had traveled to Pearl Harbor, where he and Obama hope to underscore the alliance between their two nations - 75 years after the Japanese surprise attack that brought America into history's bloodiest war. The two leaders had meeting on December 27 in Hawaiian state capital Honolulu, on the archipelago's Oahu island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The visit was particular resonance for Obama, who was born in Hawaii and spent much of his childhood and adolescence here. On December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy," as then President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, Japan's General Isoroku Yamamoto unleashed a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor's "Battleship Row." The assault caught the Americans off guard, and the Japanese sunk or heavily damaged eight US battleships. The twohour offensive killed 2,403 Americans in all and injured more than 1,100 others. An explosion in the Arizona's ammunition stocks sealed that ship's fate. More than 16 million Americans served in uniform from 1941 to 1945 - more than 400,000 were killed. Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima marked the beginning and end of the conflict between Japan and America, but it is impossible to compare the two. One was an attack on the heart of U.S. naval power in the Pacific, the other an atomic bomb over a city. But each event has cemented itself in the hearts and collective memories of the people, and both places remain hallowed sites of pilgrimage to this date. Mr Abe's visit to Pearl Harbor was not the first by a Japanese prime minister. Shigeru Yoshida made a stopover in Hawaii in 1951 and visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, or Punchbowl, during his visit. But there is no record showing that he paid his respects to the victims at the harbour. In 1956, then-prime minister Ichiro Hatoyama visited the headquarters of the United States Pacific Command in Honolulu, which fronts Pearl Harbor. And Abe's grandfather, prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, did the same in 1957. But Mr Abe's visit - the first by a sitting Prime Minister to the USS Arizona memorial, built in the early 1960s - may prove the most significant. In an emotive speech on the waterfront, he imagined the long-silent voices of American victims chatting about their futures and their dreams, praying for asyet unborn children before the carnage. "All of that was brought to an end," he said in his native Japanese. "When I contemplate that solemn reality, I am rendered entirely speechless." The importance of the visit may be mostly symbolic for two countries that, in a remarkable transformation, have grown into close allies in the decades since they faced off in brutal conflict. At the same time, it's significant that it took more than 70 years for U.S.-Japanese relations to get to this point. Abe won't apologize for Japan's attack when he visits, a government spokesman said earlier this month. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that "the purpose of the upcoming visit is to pay respects for the war dead and not to offer an apology." The following are excerpts from the two remarks -by President Obama and Prime Minister Abe - at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. - Ed.
"The U.S and Japan Work Shoulder-to-Shoulder to Strengthen The Security of the Asia-Pacific And the World President Obama: To Americans - especially to those of us who call Hawaii home - this harbor is a sacred place. As we lay a wreath or toss flowers into waters that still weep, we think of the more than 2,400 American patriots - fathers and husbands, wives and daughters - manning Heaven' s rails for all eternity. We salute the defenders of Oahu who pull themselves a little straighter every December 7th, and we reflect on the heroism that shone here 75 years ago. Here at Pearl Harbor, America's first battle of the Second World War roused a nation. Here, in so many ways, America came of age. A generation of Americans - including my grandparents - the Greatest Generation - they did not seek war, but they refused to shrink from it. And they all did their part on fronts and in factories. And while, 75 years later, the proud ranks of Pearl Harbor survivors have thinned with time, the bravery we recall here is forever etched in our national heart. I would ask all our Pearl Harbor and World War II veterans who are able to, to please stand or raise your hands - because a grateful nation thanks you. The character of nations is tested in war, but it is defined in peace. After one of the most horrific chapters in human history - one that took not tens of thousands, but tens of millions of lives - with ferocious fighting across this ocean - the United States and Japan chose friendship and peace. Over the decades, our alliance has made both of our nations more successful. It has helped underwrite an international order that has prevented another World War and that has lifted more than a billion people out of extreme poverty. And 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 stability in the Asia Pacific and a force for progress around the globe. Our alliance has never been stronger. In good times and in bad, we are there for each other. Recall five years ago, when a wall of water bore down on Japan and reactors in Fukushima melted, America' s men and women in uniform were there to help our Japanese friends. Across the globe, the United States and Japan work shoulder-toshoulder to strengthen the security of the Asia Pacific and the world - turning back piracy, combating disease, slowing the spread of nuclear weapons, keeping the peace in wartorn lands. Earlier this year, near Pearl Harbor, Japan joined with two dozen nations in the world' s largest maritime military exercise. That included our forces from U.S. Pacific Command, led by Admiral Harry Harris, the son of an American Naval officer and a Japanese mother. Harry was born in Yokosuka, but you wouldn' t know it from his Tennessee twang. In this sense, our presence here today - the connections not just between our governments, but between our people, the presence of Prime Minister Abe here today - remind us of what is possible between nations and between peoples. Wars can end. The most bitter of adversaries can become the strongest of allies. The fruits of peace always outweigh the plunder of war. This is the enduring truth of this hallowed harbor. It is here that we remember that even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different. The sacrifice made here, the anguish of war, reminds us to seek the divine spark that is common to all humanity. It insists that we strive to be what our Japanese friends call otagai no tame ni - "with and for each other." That is the lesson of Captain William Callaghan of the Missouri. Even after an attack on his ship, he ordered that the Japanese pilot be laid to rest with military honors, wrapped in a Japanese flag sewn by American sailors. It is the lesson, in turn, of the Japanese pilot who, years later, returned to this harbor, befriended an old Marine bugler and asked him to play taps and lay two roses at this memorial every month - one for America' s fallen and one for Japan' s. It is a lesson our two peoples learn every day, in the most ordinary of ways -- whether it's Americans studying in Tokyo, young Japanese studying across America; scientists from our two nations together unraveling the mysteries of cancer, or combating climate change, exploring the stars. It's a baseball player like Ichiro lighting up a stadium in Miami, buoyed by the shared pride of two peoples, both American and Japanese, united in peace and friendship. As nations, and as people, we cannot choose the history that we inherit. But we can choose what lessons to draw from it, and use those lessons to chart our own futures. Prime Minister Abe, I welcome you here in the spirit of friendship, as the people of Japan have always welcomed me. I hope that together, we send a message to the world that there is more to be won in peace than in war; that reconciliation carries more rewards than retribution. Here in this quiet harbor, we honor those we lost, and we give thanks for all that our two nations have won - together, as friends.
"We Must Never Repeat The Horrors of War" Prime Minister Abe: If we listen closely, we can make out the sound of restless waves breaking and then retreating again. The calm inlet of brilliant blue is radiant with the gentle sparkle of the warm sun. Behind me, a striking white form atop the azure, is the USS Arizona Memorial. Even 75 years later, the USS Arizona, now at rest atop the seabed, is the final resting place for a tremendous number of sailors and Marines. Listening again as I focus my senses, alongside the song of the breeze and the rumble of the rolling waves, I can almost discern the voices of those crewmen. Voices of lively conversation, upbeat and at ease, on that day, on a Sunday morning. Voices of young servicemen talking to each other about their future and dreams; voices calling out names of loved ones in their very final moments; voices praying for the happiness of children still unborn. And every one of those servicemen had a mother and a father anxious about his safety. Many had wives and girlfriends they loved, and many must have had children they would have loved watch grow up. All of that was brought to an end. When I contemplate that solemn reality I am rendered entirely speechless. "Rest in peace, precious souls of the fallen." With that overwhelming sentiment, I cast flowers, on behalf of Japanese people, upon the waters where those sailors and Marines sleep. 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 to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place, and also to the souls of the countless innocent people who became the victims of the war. We must never repeat the horrors of war again. This is the solemn vow we, the people of Japan, have taken. Since the war, we have created a free and democratic country that values the rule of law, and has resolutely upheld our vow never again to wage war. We, the people of Japan, will continue to uphold this unwavering principle while harboring quiet pride in the path we have walked as a peaceloving nation over these 70 years since the war ended. To the souls of the servicemen who lie in eternal rest aboard the USS Arizona, to the American people, and to all peoples around the world, I pledge that unwavering vow here as the Prime Minister of Japan. When the war ended, and Japan was a nation in burnt-out ruins as far as the eye could see, suffering under abject poverty, it was the United States and its good people that unstintingly sent us food to eat and clothes to wear. The Japanese people managed to survive and make their way toward the future, thanks to the sweaters and milk sent by the American people. And it was the United States that opened up the path for Japan to return to the international community once more after the war. Under the leadership of the United States, Japan, as a member of the free world, was able to enjoy peace and prosperity. The goodwill and assistance you extended to us Japanese - the enemy you had fought so furiously - together with the tremendous spirit of tolerance, were etched deeply into the hearts and minds of our grandfathers and mothers. We also remember them. Our children and grandchildren will also continue to pass these memories down and never forget what you did for us. The words pass through my mind - those words described on the wall at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., where I visited with President Obama: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive on to do all which may achieve and cherish a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." These are the words of Abraham Lincoln. On behalf of the Japanese people, I hereby wish to express once again my heartfelt gratitude to the United States and to the world for the tolerance extended to Japan. It has now been 75 years since that Pearl Harbor. Japan and the United States, which fought a fierce war that will go down in the annals of human history, have become allies, with deep and strong ties rarely found anywhere in history. We are allies that will tackle together to an even greater degree than ever before the many challenges covering the globe. Ours is an alliance of hope that will lead us to the future. What has binded us together is the hope of reconciliation made possible through the spirit, the tolerance. What I want to appeal to the people of the world here at Pearl Harbor, together with President Obama, is this power of reconciliation. Even today, the horrors of war have not been eradicated from the surface of the world. There is no end to the spiral where hatred creates hatred. The world needs the spirit of tolerance and the power of reconciliation now, and especially now. Japan and the United States, which have eradicated hatred and cultivated friendship and trust on the basis of common values, are now - and especially now - taking responsibility for appealing to the world about the importance of tolerance and the power of reconciliation. That is precisely why the Japan-U.S. alliance is an alliance of hope. The inlet gazing at us is tranquil as far as the eye can see. Pearl Harbor. It is precisely this inlet, flowing like shimmering pearls, that is a symbol of tolerance and reconciliation. 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 a symbol of reconciliation. 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.