The Japanese prime minister has made a solemn vow that his country will never go to war again.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a service at Pearl Harbour with U.S. President Barack Obama and although he did not apologise for the surprise attack that drew America into the second world war, he vowed Japan ‘must never repeat the horrors of war again’.
Mr Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to visit the site and he and Obama sprinkled purple petals into the water to commemorate the more than 1,000 American war dead who remain entombed in the rusting hulk of the U.S. Arizona.
At the Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam Mr Abe said:
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.
After Obama and Abe laid green-and-peach wreaths at the Pearl Harbour memorial, the American president called it a ‘sacred place’ adding that even the deepest wounds of war can give way to friendship and lasting peace.
While some may raise an eyebrow at Mr Abe not apologising for his country’s actions, it was enough for Mr Obama who similarly refused to apologise for his country’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.
Alfred Rodrigues, a 96-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who survived the attack, also agreed that no apology was needed explaining he felt no hard feelings and saying: “War is war.”
Mr Abe’s visit to the site shows the U.S. government’s commitment to fostering stronger relations with their once bitter enemy and it’s believed the two world leaders discussed China’s new aircraft carrier and the stability of East Asia as a whole.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour is believed to have killed 2,403 people, wounding a thousand more as well as destroying a number of U.S. military assets.
Following the attack the U.S. government imprisoned nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps before eventually dropping two atomic bombs which killed some 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki.