Putting 75 years of resentment behind them, the leaders of the United States and Japan are coming together at Pearl Harbor for a historic pilgrimage to the site where the bloodshed of the surprise attacks drew America into World War II. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit Tuesday with President Barack Obama is powerful proof that the former enemies have transcended the recriminatory impulses that weighed down relations after the war, Japan's government has said. Although Japanese leaders have visited Pearl Harbor before, starting just six years after the end of the war, Abe will be the first to visit the memorial that now rests on the hallowed waters above the sunken USS Arizona, the AP reports.
For Obama, it's likely the last time he will meet with a foreign leader as president, White House aides said. For Abe, it's an act of symbolic reciprocity, coming six months after Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima. Abe will not apologize for Pearl Harbor, his government has said. Nor did Obama apologize at Hiroshima in May. No apology needed, said 96-year-old Alfred Rodrigues, a US Navy veteran who survived what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a "date which will live in infamy." "War is war," Rodrigues said as he looked at old photos of his military service. "They were doing what they were supposed to do, and we were doing what we were supposed to do." China, meanwhile, criticized Abe's visit as an insincere attempt to absolve Japan of its wartime aggression.