TOKYO • The wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited Pearl Harbour, bombed by Japanese planes nearly 75 years ago in an attack that brought the United States into World War II.
It was not clear exactly when Mrs Akie Abe made the visit. But she posted 11 pictures on her official Facebook page, apparently early yesterday. She wrote: "I offered flowers and my prayers at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour."
Her visit to the Hawaii memorial came just months after US President Barack Obama journeyed to Hiroshima, the Japanese city where a US plane dropped the world's first atom bomb in the closing days of World War II. Mr Obama's trip to Hiroshima sparked speculation that Mr Abe could visit Pearl Harbour in response.
But top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga yesterday denied that, while confirming the first lady was in Hawaii for a "private trip".
He added: "There is no such plan for the Prime Minister to visit Hawaii."
On Dec 7, 1941, Japanese planes swept over the US naval base, killing more than 2,400 American troops and civilians, a date which then-president Franklin Roosevelt declared would live "in infamy".
The two-hour bombardment of the US Pacific Fleet at anchor sank or damaged about 20 ships and destroyed 164 planes.
Mrs Abe is seen in one of the Facebook photos bowing before a wall on which the names of victims are inscribed.
"Many people must have given fresh thought to the bombed city of Hiroshima and the war after President Obama visited the city," she told the Gendai Business web magazine, which apparently accompanied her to Pearl Harbour.
"I am aware that there are various debates and views about Pearl Harbour, but I believe we must go beyond hatred and anger, and pass down these memories to following generations."
Mrs Abe is seen in Japan as playing a political role that complements her husband, sometimes by softening his hawkish image and, at others, by soothing his nationalist supporters.