JAPANESE Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has rejected suggestions of visiting Pearl Harbor to reciprocate for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, which takes place later this week.
Obama just arrived in Japan after a three-day visit to Vietnam in a high-profile Asia trip, where he is currently attending the G7 summit with six other world leaders at Ise-Shima.
He will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima and its war memorial park dedicated to victims of the 1945 nuclear bombing by American military.
After meeting Obama just before the opening of the two-day summit, Abe was asked if he would reflect on the significance of the president’s trip, and if he would in turn visit Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
In December 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack that killed more than 2,400 people and launched the U.S. headfirst into World War II.
Abe deflected the question, instead speaking first of the suffering felt by the Japanese people after Hiroshima was devastated. According to the Japan Times, he said: “Numerous citizens sacrificed their lives. And even now, there are those of us suffering because of the atomic bombing.”
He hopes Obama’s visit will push efforts towards a nuclear-free world forward, reported Japan Today.
Abe added: “At this moment I don’t have any specific plan to visit Hawaii.” Japan Today described the response as Abe completely “side-stepping” the suggestion that there should be any reciprocation.
The American president’s visit to Japan has been mostly centered on whether or not he would formally apologize to the victims of Hiroshima, but both the White House and Obama himself have repeatedly said there would be no apology.
Instead, Obama said his visit to Hiroshima serves as a “reminder that war involves suffering”.
However, Abe strongly condemned the recent arrest of a U.S. military worker who admitted to strangling and killing a woman and dumping her body in the Okinawa prefecture.
He declared himself as “just speechless” at the brutal crime and has called for investigations into the offender, former U.S. marine Kenneth Franklin Shinzato.
Obama expressed his “deepest regrets” about the incident, calling it “appalling” and pledged to take action to prevent such heinous crimes from happening, reported Japan Today.