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PM Abe emphasizes 'power of reconciliation' in speech at Pearl Harbor

After visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech as U.S. President Barack Obama looks on, in Oahu, Hawaii, on Dec. 27, 2016. (Pool photo)

HONOLULU -- In a speech Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave following a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor with U.S. President Barack Obama, he stated, "We must never repeat the horrors of war again," and underscored "the power of reconciliation."

Abe became the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, built above the USS Arizona, which was sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in 1941. Along with Obama, Abe observed a moment of silence in front of a marble wall inscribed with the names of the victims of the Pearl Harbor attack.

In addition, the two leaders sprinkled flower petals into the water where the USS Arizona is submerged, and where the bodies of many of the 1,177 crew members who died in the attack remain trapped.

Following their visit to the memorial, Abe and Obama relocated to a pier facing Pearl Harbor, giving speeches in front of U.S. veterans who survived the Pearl Harbor attack.

"We, the people of Japan ... (harbor) quiet pride in the path we have walked as a peace-loving nation over these 70 years since the war ended," Abe said, after stating that the Japanese people had taken a "solemn vow" never to repeat "the horrors of war again." He emphasized that what has bonded Japan and the United States together "is the power of reconciliation, made possible through the spirit of tolerance."

Abe went on to say, "It is my wish that our Japanese children, and President Obama, your American children, and indeed their children and grandchildren, and people all around the world, will continue to remember Pearl Harbor as the symbol of reconciliation."

Abe did not make an apology for the Pearl Harbor attack, or use the words, "feelings of deep remorse over the war," which he said in a speech he gave to U.S. Congress in April 2015.

Meanwhile, President Obama said in his speech that Abe's presence at Pearl Harbor was "a historic gesture that speaks to the power of reconciliation and the alliance between the American and Japanese peoples." He also stated that "The most bitter of adversaries can become the strongest of allies," and remarked that the Japan-U.S. alliance "stands as the cornerstone of peace and stability."

Sterling Cale, a 95-year-old former naval officer who survived the Pearl Harbor attack, said that he had not expected that Prime Minister Abe would stoop down in front of where he was sitting, look him in the eyes, and shake his hand. Cale also said that he was proud of the fact that both Obama and Abe visited Pearl Harbor on behalf of the people of their respective countries, and that he believed that Prime Minister Abe's presence was the equivalent of an apology.

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