Published: Fri, December 30, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Obama, Japan's Abe decry 'horrors of war' at Pearl Harbor

Television footage showed Inada entering the shrine wearing a black jacket and a smile on her face, Reuters reported.

"This year the president of the country that dropped the atomic bomb visited Hiroshima and yesterday the prime minister made remarks of consolation at Pearl Harbor", Inada said, in a reference to Barack Obama's highly symbolic trip to Hiroshima in May.

Inada did not pay a visit on the August 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II due to her four-day trip to Djibouti to inspect Self-Defense Forces troops engaged in an antipiracy mission off Somalia.

Chung Byung-won, director general of the ministry's Northeast Asia Affairs Bureau, summoned Kohei Maruyama, a minister at the Japanese Embassy in Korea, to the government complex in central Seoul and lodged a formal protest.

Abe offered his "sincere and everlasting condolences" for the attack and vowed that Japan "must never repeat the horrors of war again".

It also came a day after she accompanied Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his historic visit to Pearl Harbor.

Some Abe critics noted the Japanese leader's visit, and the reconciliation with the United States that it symbolized, underscored the stark contrast in its relationship with China and South Korea.

She argued that offering respect to war dead should be universally accepted, echoing the argument repeated by Japanese lawmakers who frequently visit Yasukuni.

Japan's Asian neighbors harbor bitter memories of the country's atrocities before and during World War II, when it colonized or invaded much of the region.

Yasukuni was consecrated in 1869 as the national military shrine for the spirits of the nation's warriors, but it became more than that when, in 1979, it was discovered that 14 Class A war criminals had been secretly enshrined there the year before.

But countries like China and South Korea have always criticised the controversial place as it reminds them of the suffering they experienced under Japan's colonialism and hostility in the first half of the 20th century.

Japanese officials said that in their talks, Abe and Obama agreed Tuesday to closely monitor the movements of China's first and sole aircraft carrier, which has sailed into the western Pacific for the first time. Partners, really. The plain truth is that today, the US needs Japan and Japan needs the United States.

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