Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will visit Pearl Harbor with President Obama on Tuesday, wasn't even born when Japan's former leader Shigeru Yoshida went there just six years after the country's World War II surrender, by himself and feeling awkward. Yoshida is best remembered for signing the San Francisco peace treaty with the US and others in 1951, allowing Japan back into international society after its war defeat. His Pearl Harbor visit, which he made on his way home from San Francisco, was largely eclipsed by the historic treaty. Archival writings and photos unearthed by the Associated Press reconstruct Yoshida's visit, from his aim to win US trust to how he was put at ease by the US Navy commander's dog.
Yoshida arrived at Pearl Harbor on Sept. 12, 1951, shortly after requesting a courtesy visit to the office of Adm. Arthur W.R. Radford, commander of the US Pacific fleet. The office overlooked Pearl Harbor, offering a direct view of the site of the Japanese attack of Dec. 7, 1941. Yoshida, westernized and fluent in English, showed up in a white suit, wearing his trademark brimmed hat and carrying a cane, looking a bit stiff. Then Radford's dog broke the ice. His little Scottish Terrier, which was stretched out in front of Radford's desk, walked slowly to Yoshida to be patted, while sniffing around his shoes and ankles. "That started a dog conversation that took most of the visit," Radford wrote in his memoir, From Pearl Harbor to Vietnam. Years later, Yoshida told Radford's wife how he was embarrassed when he walked into the office after seeing Pearl Harbor, and how happy he was that the dog was able to settle him down. (Read more Pearl Harbor stories.)