Tokyo (CNN)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday he will visit Pearl Harbor in late December with President Barack Obama, 75 years after Japan’s attack on Hawaii in 1941.
He will be the first Japanese leader to visit the site since the end of World War II.
Speaking to reporters on Monday evening, Abe implied the visit was in return for Obama visiting Hiroshima earlier this year.
“President Obama’s message for the world without nuclear upon his visit to Hiroshima was engraved in the heart of the Japanese people,” he said.
“I will visit Pearl Harbor with President Obama. This will be a visit to soothe the souls of the victims. We should never repeat the ravages of the war.”
The surprise attack on December 7, 1941, killed more than 2,000 Americans and triggered the entry of the US into World War II.
The announcement coincides with the 75th anniversary of the battle on Wednesday.
Obama put US-Japan relations high on his agenda when he assumed office in 2009. His administration has shown solidarity with Japan through joint military drills as the Asian nation faces nuclear threats from North Korea and a territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
On Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in May, the president wrote in the museum’s guest book, calling for a “world without nuclear weapons.”
“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder the terrible forces unleashed in the not so distant past,” Obama said in a speech on the day.
“We come to mourn the dead … their souls speak to us and ask us to look inward. To take stock of who we are and what we might become.”