Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Wednesday rejected the idea of visiting Pearl Harbor to reciprocate U.S. President Barack Obama's historic trip to Hiroshima later this week. Obama said he would use this trip to honor all those killed in World War II and to push for a world without nuclear weapons, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The two world leaders met before the opening of the two-day Group of Seven Summit, scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
According to the AP, Abe spoke first of the suffering of the Japanese people: “Numerous citizens sacrificed their lives. And even now, there are those of us suffering because of the atomic bombing,” adding that their desire is for the world "never to repeat" such a tragedy.
Abe was reportedly asked to reflect on the significance of the American president's trip to Hiroshima and whether he would in turn visit Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, where a surprise attack by the Japanese military on Dec. 7, 1941, killed more than 2,400 people and led the United States into the war.
Abe did not rule out the possibility entirely but in the face of suggestions of reciprocity, he clearly said: "At this moment I don't have any specific plan to visit Hawaii."
The White House had earlier made clear that Obama would not apologize for the U.S. bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, which killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima and launched the nuclear age. In the U.S., opinion over the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is divided. While some believe that it hastened the end of the war and saved countless lives, others say that Japan would have surrendered soon anyway.
However, both Obama and Abe made a point to stress the strength of the current U.S.-Japanese alliance.