Abe ends Pearl Harbor visit, China says Japan is unrepentant

Washington/Beijing, Dec 28 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor, during which he offered no apology for Japan’s sneak attack on the US in 1941, was on Wednesday deplored by China, which said “it is more in the interest of the future to make one sincere apology than to put on dozens of smart shows”.

Abe on Tuesday acknowledged that the US and Japan fought a fierce war “that will go down in the annuls of human history”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Each and every one of those servicemen had a mother and a father anxious about his safety. Many had wives and girlfriends they loved. And many must have had children they would have loved to watch grow up. All of that was brought to an end,” said Abe.

China, however, poured cold water on Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor, saying what “Japan waged against China and other Asian neighbours was a war of aggression. Reconciliation between the inflicters and victims must and can only be based upon sincere reflection and apology from the inflicters”.

Adding that the only way that a genuine and lasting reconciliation can be realised only by “one sincere apology than to put on dozens of smart shows.”

The Foreign Ministry said it was aware of the reports and commentaries carried by the western media like the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal that label this trip as “smart”, not “sincere”.

Prime Minister Abe said that the Japanese had taken a “solemn vow” to never again wage war, CNN reported.

The Japanese government billed Abe’s visit as a tour of reconciliation.

However, except for offering his “sincere and everlasting condolences” to the souls of the 2,400 Americans killed by troops of the Japanese imperial forces, no apology from Abe was issued.

About 20 US vessels were sunk or damaged and over 300 US aircraft were damaged or destroyed when more than 350 Japanese warplanes launched a stealth attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941.

The attack came as a shock to the Americans and directly led to the US joining the World War II.

Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, after the US dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively on August 6 and August 9.

Abe’s decision to visit Pearl Harbour came seven months after Obama visited Hiroshima.

In his speech on Tuesday, Obama reflected on the events at Pearl Harbour 75 years ago while also paying tribute to the restored relations between Japan and the US.

He said “our alliance has never been stronger”.

“The US and Japan chose friendship and they chose peace. Over the decades, our alliances have made the nations more successful,” Obama said.

“It is here that we remember that, even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonise those who are different,” Obama said in a reference to Trump.

Apart from reciprocating Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, Abe’s trip to Pearl Harbour was believed to be the latest step by the Japanese government to strengthen the Japan-US alliance before Trump’s inauguration in January.

During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly ripped US defence of Japan as a one-sided and expensive deal.

Abe and Obama also held their last bilateral meeting together on Tuesday.

Both leaders discussed security, economic and global challenges, according to the White House.