US President Barack Obama on Wednesday warned against the “urge to demonize those who are different” as he hosted Shinzo Abe, the leader of foe-turned-ally Japan, for a solemn visit to Pearl Harbor.
Obama, who will leave office next month, also hailed the alliance between the two nations, saying it had “never been stronger.”
In remarks that echoed with history and America’s current hypercharged politics, Obama told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that “the character of nations is tested in war, but it is defined in peace.”
“Even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different,” Obama said.
“I welcome you here in the spirit of friendship,” he told Abe. “I hope that, together, we send a message to the world that there is more to be won in peace than in war, that reconciliation carries more rewards than retribution.”
Abe expressed “sincere and everlasting condolences” to the families of the more than 2,400 Americans killed by Japanese fighters.
“We must never repeat the horrors of war,” he said, marking the 75th anniversary of the infamous attack that triggered America’s entry into World War II.
Standing next to Barack Obama, he expressed thanks for the “tolerance extended to Japan” as he hailed the power of reconciliation.