Abe’s Pearl Harbor visitJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood next to his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the historic site of the surprise Japanese air raid that led to the U.S. joining of World War II. The ceremonial event was to reinforce the renewed alliance of the two after Obama visited the preserved ruins of Hiroshima that bore atom bombs from the U.S. to end the war during his visit to Japan in May.
Abe is not the first Japanese leader to visit the naval base in Hawaii. Prime Ministers Shigeru Yoshida stopped by in 1951 and Nobusuke Kishi in 1957. But Abe is the first to visit the wreck of the USS Arizona where more than 1,100 sailors and Marines died when the battleship was sunk by the bombing on Pearl Harbor. He went ahead with the visit despite opposition from Japanese nationalists.
He was taking a political risk at home clearly to send a message to president-elect Donald J. Trump who, during his campaign, said he would demand more contributions from Japan for its defense. Despite his support for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Abe was the first to fly to New York to meet the president-elect.
There is no leader in Korea to strike a summit with the U.S. leader who will be sworn in next month. Seoul’s diplomatic authorities should do all they can to build connections with the new administration.
Abe has not apologized or expressed regret for Japan causing the Pacific War, again showing disregard for neighboring Asian countries that have suffered the most from its past aggressions. He may have won favor with Americans, but lost further faith with Japan’s neighbors.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 28, Page 34