Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, accompanied by United States Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, visited the newly renovated John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Sunday evening as part of the prime minister’s two-day trip to the city.
“President Kennedy has significance all around the world, but special ties to Japan and especially now with Ambassador Kennedy,” said Heather Campion, chief executive of the Kennedy Library Foundation.
During the visit, Abe, Kennedy, and several others — including Abe’s wife Akie, Kennedy’s husband Edwin Schlossberg, and their son Jack Schlossberg — saw all the new additions to the museum, including several films that have recently been restored and digitized. The restoration has allowed the videos, such as one of President Kennedy’s iconic inaugural address, to be displayed much larger, by projection, and has made them more vibrant.
“Ambassador Kennedy has said so many people in Japan have come up to her and said they had memorized the inaugural address, they had learned to speak English because of the inaugural address,” Campion said. “And so that was one of the stops that the prime minister wanted to make, to see that huge, beautiful film.”
Campion said Abe also watched the museum’s video of Kennedy’s speech at the Berlin Wall, and showed an interest in the home videos on display and in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis display.
Last month, the Foundation held its first international symposium, titled “The Torch Has Been Passed: JFK’s Legacy Today,” at Waseda University in Tokyo. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy attended a student debate at the university in 1962 in advance of a trip President Kennedy had planned to make in 1964 that would have made him the first sitting US president to visit Japan.
Abe and former president Bill Clinton delivered keynote speeches at the symposium.
“The legacy that John F. Kennedy has left is leadership, the power to dream, and the decision to eliminate inequality,” Abe said at the symposium. “I believe that the moral leadership that the US has shown is what the world needs today. Japan has to be a country in which young people can dream.”
Abe was scheduled to have dinner at Secretary of State John Kerry’s home Sunday, and visit the site of the Boston Marathon bombings before leaving for Washington, D.C. Monday night.Kiera Blessing can be reached at email@example.com.