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Pearl Harbor – To go or not to go?

Today’s Mainichi and Nikkei both carried prominent reports on President Obama’s decision to visit Hiroshima, parts of which focused on whether or not Prime Minister Abe will visit Pearl Harbor in a reciprocal trip to demonstrate the irreversible reconciliation between the two former adversaries. Mainichi claimed that although the GOJ explored the possibility at one point, it has come to the conclusion that such a trip by the premier is no longer necessary, quoting an unnamed senior MOFA official as saying: “We should not do something that would dredge up the unpleasant past.” On the other hand, Nikkei asserted that the GOJ is still mulling the idea, speculating that Abe may travel to the historic site in Hawaii to pay tribute to the fallen when he attends the annual APEC leaders’ meeting in Peru in November this year. 


Mainichi also wrote that while the trip to nuclear ground zero is intended to play up the “future-oriented” alliance, Japan will perhaps be pressed to take on greater defense costs and responsibilities under the new U.S. administration led either by Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. An unnamed senior MOD official said: “There is no question that the U.S. will be sending us bigger bills.”   


A Kyodo report that was printed in today’s two major Okinawa dailies wrote that  PM Abe is keen to capitalize on Obama’s trip for political grandstanding, noting that MOFA has “mixed feelings” about Abe “getting all the credit” for realizing the visit because it was Foreign Minister Kishida who negotiated patiently with the U.S. to arrange it. The article said that regarding nuclear disarmament, which the President is expected to play up during his Hiroshima tour, there is a subtle difference between the prime minister, who is a staunch advocate of the “nuclear umbrella,” and FM Kishida, who represents Hiroshima.    

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