The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago still has the ability to make many Americans very angry. The attack killed more than 2,400 Americans and launched America into the war in the Pacific. News this week that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be visiting the historic site has left many feeling betrayed.
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The purpose of Abe’s visit is to formalize reconciliation efforts begun by Obama earlier this year when he visited the site of the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima.
“We must never repeat the tragedy of the war,” Abe said about the upcoming visit. “I would like to send this commitment. At the same time, I would like to send a message of reconciliation between Japan and the U.S.”
Obama and Abe will both visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 27, during the Obama’s annual trip to the islands. A press statement said that “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.”
This isn’t consoling many veterans and their families who feel like the Japanese presence is a disgrace to the memories of those who died fighting against Japan. These concerns were brought up during a White House press conference, and addressed by press secretary Josh Earnest.
“If I were a World War II veteran who was drafted by the United States military to go and fight for our country overseas in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, I might feel quite embittered,” Earnest said. “And I think it would be a perfectly natural and understandable human reaction to not be particularly satisfied with the words of the Japanese Prime Minister.”
“And so, yes, there may be some who feel personally embittered,” he stated. “But I’m confident that many will set aside their own personal bitterness, not because they’re personally satisfied by the words of the Prime Minister, but because they recognize how important this moment is for the United States.”
Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior research fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, told Fox News that there’s a more than symbolism behind the visit. “Historical disputes tend to be brought up when relations become thorny,” he said, “but once you put them behind and move on, it makes a difference if there is any negative sentiment in the future.”