Japanese PM lays wreath at U.S. military graves before historic Pearl Harbor visit

| Updated: Dec 27, 2016 15:11 IST

London [UK], Dec. 27 (ANI): Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has laid wreath at the graves of the U.S. military personnel in Honolulu at the outset of his two-day tour of Hawaii that includes a visit to the site of the 1941 bombing which plunged the United States in World War II. On Monday, Abe landed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and then headed to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where he laid a wreath. He stood for a moment of silence at the cemetery near downtown Honolulu, which is known as Punchbowl, reports the Guardian. Abe later visited a nearby memorial for nine boys and men who died when a U.S. navy submarine collided with their Japanese fishing vessel in 2001. He will be the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit the memorial that honours sailors and marines killed in Japan's surprise attack 75 years ago. Japan's former leader Shigeru Yoshida went to Pearl Harbor six years after the country's surrender, but that was before the USS Arizona Memorial was built. The memorial will be closed to the public on Tuesday when Abe visits, joined by U.S. President Barack Obama, who is on a holiday in Hawaii with his family. The importance of the visit may be mostly symbolic. Earlier this month, the Japanese Government had said that Abe will not apologise for Japan's attack when he visits. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga had said: "The purpose of the upcoming visit is to pay respects for the war dead and not to offer an apology." The visit comes six months after Obama became the first sitting American President to visit Hiroshima for victims of the U.S. atomic bombing. (ANI)