In a Monday, December 5 announcement, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signalled his intention to visit Pearl Harbor, becoming the first Japanese leader to do so

Japan’s prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor

75 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the site with current United States President Barack Obama, a symbol of the deep reconciliation between the two countries in the decades since the devastating world war. In his press conference with Japanese reporters, the Prime Minister implied that the visit was in reciprocation for the visit by US President Obama to Hiroshima earlier this year. Hiroshima was the site of one of the nuclear attacks launched by the United States against Japan during World War II, the other being Nagasaki.

“President Obama’s message for the world without nuclear upon his visit to Hiroshima was engraved in the heart of the Japanese people…I will visit Pearl Harbor with President Obama. This will be a visit to soothe the souls of the victims. We should never repeat the ravages of the war.” Shinzo Abe said.

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The surprise attack launched by the Nazi-allied Japanese Empire on December 7, 1941, killed more than 2,000 Americans and brought the United States into one of the world’s most destructive conflicts, World War II. Wednesday, December 7, 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the attack.

The Significance of a Japanese Prime Minister Visiting Pearl Harbor

CNN spoke with Asia Strategy Founder Keith Henry, a man who regards these diplomatic developments as indicating the degree to which the two nations have reconciled. The diplomatic climate of the East Asia region is significantly different from that of the 1980’s, when many Americans feared an ascendant Japan was on the cusp of unseating the United States in economic importance. With the lost decade and subsequent failed reforms, the emergence of China and the rise of India, Japan has become the focus-point of a sustainable peace in East Asia, a region that also houses unstable and belligerent North Korea and the unsettled question of Taiwan.

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