Family of fallen Japan soldiers pay respects at Pearl Harbour

2017-09-22 14:48
A member of Nippon Izokukai holds a flower at a ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. (Caleb Jones, AP)

A member of Nippon Izokukai holds a flower at a ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. (Caleb Jones, AP)

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Pearl Harbour - Dozens of descendants of Japanese soldiers killed in World War II visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Thursday to pay respects to fallen American soldiers.

Nippon Izokukai, the Bereaved Family Association of Japan, sent about 36 children, grandchildren and other relatives of fallen Japanese soldiers to the US to mark the 70th anniversary of the group's founding.

With the rusted hull of the USS Arizona beneath them, the group laid flowers and a wreath at the memorial after touring the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbour. The group's vice president, Yukio Udagawa, bowed his head in prayer as he and others honoured those entombed in the warship just below the turquoise waters of Pearl Harbour.

"We used to be the enemy, but now are the closest of friends," Udagawa said through a translator after the ceremony. His father was drafted by the Japanese before Udagawa was born, and died in World War II fighting when his son was 3 years old. "We are true allies in the world."

The Izokukai group met with two Japanese Americans at the site, Lynn Heirakuji and Byrnes Yamashita of the Nisei Veterans Legacy in Honolulu.

Yamashita's father was a US Army soldier in World War II, and he said while he understands the reasons for the war, he is sorry for the lives lost when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"As an American, particularly a Japanese-American, I have a lot of regrets and sorrow for what my country did to their country at those two locations," Yamashita said. "Our two countries are very strong allies in peace for the future."

Last year, then-U.S. President Barack Obama laid flowers at the Hiroshima peace park to pray for the victims of the 1945 US atomic attacks, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined Obama at the USS Arizona Memorial in December.

More than 1 000 US war dead remain entombed in the submerged Arizona, and in a show of respect, Obama and Abe dropped purple petals into the water and stood in silence.

Read more on:    shinzo abe  |  barack obama  |  japan  |  us

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