PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii, Dec. 27 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama will join Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Hawaii on Tuesday for a historic visit to the site of the United States’ greatest military defeat 75 years ago.
Abe and Obama will deliver remarks at Pearl Habor at 4 p.m. EST Tuesday, the White House said. Monday, Abe arrived at the U.S. Navy base and laid a wreath to honor the dead from the surprise Dec. 7, 1941, assault.
The Japanese leader will be the first to offer formal condolences on behalf of his country for the attack — essentially payback for Obama’s similar visit to Hiroshima in August, when he addressed the U.S. nuclear attack that wiped out the city in 1945 near the end of World War II.
“I wholeheartedly welcome the decision by President Obama to visit Hiroshima, a place which suffered an atomic bomb. And he is going to visit Hiroshima as the first-ever U.S. President,” Abe said in May, a time when he also said he had no plans to visit Pearl Harbor.
“At this moment, I don’t have any specific plan to visit Hawaii,” he said. “As we move forward, I am determined to work closely with the United States in addressing … the alliance of hope between Japan and the United States.”
Abe will become the first Japanese leader to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, the primary marker commemorating the attack in the harbor.
Tuesday will mark just the second visit to Pearl Harbor by any Japanese prime minister. Former leader Shigeru Yoshida briefly visited the site in September 1951, six years after the aerial assault.