It was previously thought that Abe was not inclined to visit Pearl Harbor. In the process of arranging Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, the U.S. State Department communicated secretly with Japan about the possibility of Abe visiting Pearl Harbor. However, the Japanese side declined. The prime minister apparently thought his visit would have a negative impact on Japan-U.S. relations because the focus would be on whether or not an apology would be made during the visit and historical arguments would resurface.
Hiroshi Tajima and Satoshi Ogawa report: Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned visit to Pearl Harbor later this month is based on his decision to demonstrate a mature and future-oriented Japan-U.S. alliance to the world. The prime minister announced Monday night that he will visit Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27, and visit Pearl Harbor with U.S. President Barack Obama during the Hawaii stay.
“I have long thought of demonstrating the significance and symbolism of visiting Pearl Harbor and the importance of reconciliation.”
— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
The visit with Obama — following the U.S. president’s visit to Hiroshima in May — will be a historic event to symbolize Japan-U.S. reconciliation, as the leaders of the two countries that fought fiercely against each other in World War II will have paid their respects to victims of the war on those occasions.
“I have long thought of demonstrating the significance and symbolism of visiting Pearl Harbor and the importance of reconciliation,” Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday night.
Pearl Harbor is a significant place in Japan-U.S. history along with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On Dec. 7, 1941 (Dec. 8 Japan time), the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor and sank and damaged eight U.S. battleships, including the USS Arizona. Americans fought World War II with the phrase “Remember Pearl Harbor” in their minds.
The day after the attack, then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt described the day of the attack as “a date which will live in infamy” in a speech at a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
At the same place Roosevelt made the speech, the prime minister delivered a speech in April last year and said: “History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone,” naming locations of battles such as Pearl Harbor and Bataan and Corregidor in the Philippines.
With this, the prime minister expressed “deep repentance” in a speech that drew standing ovations from U.S. lawmakers and symbolized Japan-U.S. reconciliation.
Drew Hinshaw in Accra, Ghana and Gbenga Akingbule reporting from Abuja, Nigeria: Boko Haram killed hundreds of people and burned down almost an entire town this month, Amnesty International said Thursday, citing satellite photos to offer the clearest indication to date of the damage the Nigerian insurgency wrought.
More than 3,700 buildings, including homes, schools, and clinics, were torched by Boko Haram in and around the remote town of Baga during an assault that began on Jan. 3, the human rights group said. Satellite photos showed the entire town of Doron-Baga, which is next to Baga, had been effectively burned down.
Amnesty said the pictures corroborate the stories of refugees who have spoken of many hundreds killed in the remote area, which is dangerous and inaccessible for journalists and aid workers. Residents who fled have described walking through a countryside littered with bodies. Read the rest of this entry »