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Japanese first lady pays tribute at Pearl Harbor

HONOLULU — Japan’s first lady has visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii for the first time to pay tribute to the victims of the Japanese attack 75 years ago.

Akie Abe said in a Facebook entry Monday that she laid flowers and prayed at the USS Arizona Memorial. ‘‘I offered flowers and a prayer,’’ she wrote in the short message.

In one of several photos also posted on Facebook, Abe posed with an American veteran who survived the attack.

She did not elaborate on her visit, which came amid speculation about a similar visit by her husband, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Akie Abe made the two-hour visit Sunday while her husband was attending the Summer Olympic closing ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro.


Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the first lady was in Hawaii to attend an environmental conference. Suga declined to comment further, saying she is making a private visit.

Speculation about a possible visit by Prime Minister Abe to Pearl Harbor has grown since President Obama paid tribute in May to the victims of the US atomic bombing in Hiroshima. No serving Japanese prime minister has visited Pearl Harbor.

‘‘I’ve come to Hawaii many times, but I’ve never visited Pearl Harbor,’’ Akie Abe was quoted as saying in an online ‘‘Gendai Business’’ magazine article linked to her Facebook entry.

“As I think about the past war more often over the past year as we mark 70 years since the end of the war, I’ve felt strongly about visiting the site,’’ she said. ‘‘I wanted to see the site myself and offer a prayer for those who died.’’

The White House has said it would welcome a visit to Pearl Harbor by Shinzo Abe, but speaking at a news conference with Obama ahead of the Group of Seven Ise-Shima summit in May, Abe said there were no plans at that point.


The battleship Arizona sank when Japanese fighter planes attacked the Navy base in 1941, prompting the United States to declare war against Japan.