By Jeff Mason
HONOLULU President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will use a symbolic joint visit to Pearl Harbor to highlight the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance on Tuesday, weeks before Republican Donald Trump takes over at the White House.Obama, who is on vacation in Hawaii, and Abe met to discuss ties between the two former World War Two foes before they head to the site of the 1941 attack. Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor with torpedo planes, bombers and fighter planes on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, pounding the U.S. fleet moored there in the hope of destroying U.S. power in the Pacific. Abe plans to commemorate the dead at the USS Arizona Memorial, built over the remains of the sunken battleship USS Arizona. He will be the first Japanese prime minister to visit the memorial, a centrepiece of the historic site. Officials said Abe would not apologise for the attack.
The two leaders will take part in a wreath-laying and a moment of silence. Later they both will make remarks.Japan hopes to present a strong alliance with the United States amid concerns about China's expanding military capability.
The meeting is also meant to reinforce the U.S.-Japan partnership ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of Trump, whose opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and campaign threat to force allied countries to pay more to host U.S. forces raised concerns among allies such as Japan.Abe met with Trump in New York in November and called him a "trustworthy leader."
The Japanese leader's visit to Pearl Harbor comes months after Obama became the first incumbent U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945.Obama called for a world without nuclear arms during his visit there. Trump last week called for the United States to "greatly strengthen and expand" its nuclear capability and reportedly welcomed an international arms race. (Additional reporting by Linda Sieg in Tokyo; Editing by Alistair Bell)
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Updated Date: Dec 28, 2016 03:16:35 IST