TOKYO, Japan — Japan's prime minister will visit Pearl Harbor with President Barack Obama this month, becoming the first leader of his country to go to the Hawaii naval base that Japan attacked in 1941.
Shinzo Abe said in a statement released Monday that the purpose of the event was to remember the victims of the aerial attack, which killed more than 2,300 American servicemen and plunged the United States into World War II.
The unexpected announcement came two days before the 75th anniversary of the attack and six months after Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the memorial in Hiroshima for victims of the U.S. atomic bombing of that city.
The White House confirmed Abe's visit to Pearl Harbor would take place Dec. 27, saying in a statement: "The 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."
Abe told reporters he and Obama agreed the historic event when they met on the sidelines of a leaders' summit in Lima, Peru last month.
"The purpose of the visit will be to commemorate the victims," Abe said. "We must never repeat the horrors of war."
He added: "The U.S.-Japan alliance we have now is an alliance of hope where we put our strengths together to tackle a variety of issues facing the world."