An Akie Abe Pearl Harbor visit is being questioned by many Japanese. This week, Akie, the wife of Shinzō Abe, the current Prime Minister of Japan, did what she has become famous for – shocking her people by doing something unpredictable and very controversial. Mr. Abe is also making headlines for appearing in disguise as Super Mario at Rio Olympics closing ceremony.
This time around, Mrs. Abe flew to Hawaii where she visited the Naval Station Pearl Harbor in Honolulu and the USS Arizona Memorial on Oahu Island.
The USS Arizona Memorial is one of the most visited sites on the archipelago with more than 2 million tourists strolling in the sunken hull of the battleship every year. The memorial, which was built in 1962, marks the resting place of more than 1000 sailors and Marines killed on USS Arizona during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, which prompted America to declare war on Japan and enter World War II. More on the USS Arizona Memorial:
“Accessible only by boat, it straddles the sunken hull of the battleship without touching it. Historical information about the attack, shuttle boats to and from the memorial, and general visitor services are available at the associated USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center, which opened in 1980 and is operated by the National Park Service. The sunken remains of the battleship were declared a National Historic Landmark on 5 May 1989.”
The spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan shared countless Facebook pictures from her trip including one taken at the USS Arizona Memorial where she can be seen praying after laying flowers. The first lady visited the site at 7:55 a.m., the time of the Japanese surprise attack occurred. Under one picture she wrote:
“I offered my condolences to the victims and gave my prayer of gratitude for the peace that we have enjoyed and to establish the peace going forward.”
While she captioned the other:
“I understand that there are various debates and stances on Pearl Harbor, but I think that we have to pass on the memory to the next generation, transcending the feelings of hate and anger.”
Akie Abe’s trip came just weeks after President Barack Obama‘s visit to Hiroshima in Japan. In May, Obama paid tribute to the victims of the U.S. atomic bombing. Akie Abe’s visit has many speculating that Shinzo Abe might be heading to Pearl Harbor on the anniversary of the attack this year. However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga released a statement saying that:
“Abe was acting in a private capacity before attending a forum on maritime environment in Hawaii. The visit has no bearing on whether the prime minister will visit the memorial. Her visit there was a personal one, and the government will not comment on this.”
If a visit were ever to take place, the White House said it would welcome Mr. Abe. He would be the first serving Japanese prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor. Back in Japan, the media is a having a field day with Abe, who is always pushing the envelope, openly criticizing her husband’s policies, decisions, and creating political scandals. According to her bio:
“She has said she opposes her husband’s core agendas such as raising the consumption tax and promoting nuclear energy, as well as his stance over a contentious U.S. base in Okinawa. She even makes friends with her husband’s opponents. After the Upper House election last month, she went drinking with Yohei Miyake, an opposition camp candidate who went down to defeat. Over the drinks, she dialed her husband on her smartphone and handed it to Miyake.”
According to experts, Akie Abe remains a valuable asset for her husband.