Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe has visited Pearl Harbor naval base, where he offered “sincere and everlasting condolences” to the victims of the 1941 Japanese attack on the base.
Shinzo Abe said: “We must never repeat the horrors of war again, this is the solemn vow the people of Japan have taken.”
He was accompanied by President Barack Obama, making the visit the first by the leaders of both countries.
Japan devastated much of Pearl Harbor base, killing more than 2,400 Americans.
Shinzo Abe paid tribute to the men who lost their lives in 1941 at the naval base, many of whom remain entombed in the wreckage of the USS Arizona, sunk by the Japanese that day, and vowed reconciliation and peace.
He said: “To the souls of the US servicemen who lie aboard the USS Arizona, to the American people, and all people around the world, I pledge that unwavering vow.”
Shinzo Abe went on to praise the US for its efforts to mend relations with Japan following the war between the two countries, which ended shortly after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945.
The prime minister called the renewed alliance between the countries an “alliance of hope”.
President Obama also paid tribute to the dead, saying that he had laid a wreath on “waters that still weep”.
He said: “That morning the ranks on those men’s shoulders reflected them less than the courage in their hearts.”
Barack Obama welcomed Shinzo Abe “in the spirit of friendship, in the manner Japan has always welcomed me”.
ShinzoAbe is the first Japanese leader to visit the memorial on the site of the Arizona, although several of his predecessors have been to Pearl Harbor in the past.
The Japanese prime minister and President Obama laid wreaths at the site and the two leaders prayed for the dead.
However, as expected, Shinzo Abe did not issue an apology for the attack.
Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor damaged all eight of the US battleships at the base and sunk four of them, propelling the US into World War II.
Nearly half of those killed were on the Arizona and the remains of most are still entombed in the wreckage.
All eight battleships at the base were damaged and four were sunk. But the key US aircraft carriers were at sea at the time.
On December 26, Shinzo Abe visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and laid a wreath.
He stood for a moment of silence at the cemetery near central Honolulu, a memorial to those who died the Pacific theater of war.
Shinzo Abe also held a summit meeting with Barack Obama in Hawaii, their last before President Obama steps down in January.