TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he will visit Pearl Harbor with US President Barack Obama at the end of this
month, becoming the first leader of his country to go to the US Naval base in Hawaii that Japan attacked in 1941, propelling the United States into World War II.
The unexpected announcement came two days before the 75th anniversary of the attack and six months after Obama became the first sitting US president to visit the memorial in Hiroshima for victims of the US atomic bombing of that city at the end of the war.
Abe, in a brief statement, said he would visit Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27 to pray for the war dead at Pearl Harbor and to hold a final summit meeting with Obama before his presidency ends.
"We must never repeat the tragedy of the war," he told reporters. "I would like to send this commitment. At the same time, I would like to send a message of reconciliation between Japan and the US."
The White House confirmed a meeting on Dec. 27, saying "the two leaders' visit will showcase the power of reconciliation that has turned former adversaries into the closest of allies, united by common interests and shared values."