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Japanese leader Shinzo Abe to visit Pearl Harbour with Barack Obama

Japan's leader has said he will visit Pearl Harbour with US president Barack Obama at the end of this month.

No serving Japanese prime minister has ever visited the US naval base in Hawaii that was attacked by Japan in 1941, propelling the United States into the Second World War.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will visit Hawaii in late December and hold a final summit meeting there with Mr Obama before the American leader leaves office.

Earlier this year, Mr Obama became the first sitting US president to visit the memorial to victims of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima at the end of the war.

The unexpected announcement came two days before the 75th anniversary of the attack.

Mr Abe, in a brief statement, said he would visit Hawaii on December 26 and 27 to pray for the war dead at Pearl Harbour.

"We must never repeat the tragedy of the war," he told reporters. "I would like to send this commitment. At the same time, I would like to send a message of reconciliation between Japan and the US."

The White House confirmed a meeting on December 27, saying "the two leaders' visit will showcase the power of reconciliation that has turned former adversaries into the closest of allies, united by common interests and shared values".

More than 2,300 US servicemen died in the aerial attack, which will be marked on Wednesday by a remembrance ceremony on a pier overlooking the harbour. A moment of silence will be observed at 7.55am, when the Japanese planes hit their first target.

In the seven decades since the end of the war, the United States and Japan have become staunch allies as Japan rebuilt itself into an economic power. It is one of the more remarkable turnarounds of former enemies in world history.

"Our talks in Hawaii will be a chance to show the rest of the world our ever stronger alliance in the future," Mr Abe said.



From Belfast Telegraph