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Truman's grandson says Abe's speech turned Pearl Harbor into place of reconciliation

U.S. President Harry Truman's grandson Clifton Truman Daniel, left, and Sadako Sasaki's brother Masahiro Sasaki are seen in Los Angeles on May 29, 2016. (Mainichi)
Sadako Sasaki

LOS ANGELES -- A grandchild of 33rd U.S. President Harry Truman, who decided to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 71 years ago, said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 28 (Dec. 27 local time) steered the course of the memory associated with the U.S. Navy base from a place of retaliation to a place of reconciliation.

Clifton Truman Daniel, 59, the oldest grandson of President Truman, told the Mainichi Shimbun on the phone that the best part of Prime Minister Abe's speech for him was when he thanked Americans for what they did after World War II and when he pointed out that efforts toward reconciliation started almost immediately following Japan's surrender.

Daniel told the Mainichi that the episode of U.S. soldiers building a marker for a Japanese pilot who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor reminded him of his grandfather.

When President Truman visited Mexico in 1947, he offered a wreath to the tomb of "Los Ninos Heroes" commemorating six army cadets who died in the Mexican-American War in the 1840s. When asked why he honored those who fought the United States, Truman said, "Brave men don't belong to any one country. I respect bravery wherever I see it." Daniel said Obama and Abe have done what his grandfather did in Mexico.

The exhibition at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is now set up in a way for visitors to see perspectives of both Japan and the United States after the venue was renovated in 2010. The aim of such an arrangement is to pass down peace, instead of infamy. With help from Daniel, a tiny paper crane folded by Sadako Sasaki, a girl who died at age 12 many years after being exposed to the Hiroshima atomic bombing, was included in a regular exhibition in 2013 as a symbol of reconciliation.

"Sadako's crane brings (stories of) the other side," Daniel said, adding that knowing a different perspective helps reconciliation move forward.

Daniel also pointed out that Prime Minister Abe's visit to Pearl Harbor opened doors for Abe to visit China and other Asian nations to honor those killed in war there. He said it is meaningful for world leaders to pay respects to the fallen and share stories about national heroes in understanding the reasons why wars happen.

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