Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Japan's surprise attack on December 7, 1941 led to the United States joining World War II. Mr Abe did not apologize for the attack but did offer his condolences. He said: "President Obama, the people of the United States of America and the people around the world, as the Prime Minister of Japan, I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here." Mr Abe also paid tribute to those who died in the attack. He said: "We must never repeat the horrors of war again. This is the solemn vow the people of Japan have taken." President Obama welcomed Mr Abe, "in the spirit of friendship".
A total of 353 Japanese aircraft attacked the US base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 US personnel. The 75-minute attack also damaged or destroyed 19 US Navy warships. Mr Abe is the first Japanese leader for decades to visit Pearl Harbor and the first to visit a memorial on the site of the sunken battleship the USS Arizona. Mr Abe acknowledged the US role in rebuilding Japan after WWII. He said: "When the war ended and Japan was a nation in burnt-out ruins as far as the eye could see, suffering miserable poverty, it was the USA and its good people that generously sent us food to eat and clothes to wear." He added that the friendship between the USA and Japan was an everlasting "alliance of hope".