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Japanese Prime Minister arrived in Hawaii on Monday, one day ahead of his visit to Pearl Harbor with President Barack Obama.
Abe’s attendance at the USS Arizona Memorial will mark the first time in decades that a Japanese prime minster will visit the site where 2,403 Americans were killed during the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
“Together with President Obama, I would like to express to the world this pledge for the future and the value of reconciliation,” Abe told reporters before leaving Japan, according to local media.
The visit comes seven months after Obama became the first sitting president to visit a park in Hiroshima dedicated to the estimated 200,000-plus people who were killed when the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on that city and Nagasaki in August 1945.
Though Abe’s visit has widely been reported as a first ever since the war, the Associated Press found in its archive a story from 1951 that described then-Prime Minster Shigeru Yoshida making the "first official call" to the site.
He spent roughly 20 minutes there, and posed for a photo with the commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet, according to the AP.
A Japanese-language newspaper in Hawaii later reported that two more prime ministers visited in 1956 and 1957.
Before his visit Tuesday to the Pearl Harbor memorial, Abe laid a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, a long tradition among Japanese leaders, NBC affiliate KHNL reported.