During Historic Pearl Harbor Visit With Japanese PM, Obama Praises Peace Over War

PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama participate in a wreath-laying ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 27, 2016.PlayKevin Lamarque/REUTERS
WATCH Japanese Prime Minister to Make Historic Trip to Pearl Harbor

Against the backdrop of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, and with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his side, President Barack Obama spoke Tuesday about the ills of tribalism and war.

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"I hope that together we send a message to the world that there is more to be won in peace than in war," Obama said to Abe after a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of the more than 2,400 Americans who died in the attack by Japan.

Obama welcomed Abe to Hawaii, and together they visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu — the first time since Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that a Japanese leader paid an official visit to the memorial.

The two world leaders delivered remarks in the "quiet harbor," as Obama called it, hoping to send a message to the world.

Obama said Abe’s presence “reminds us of what is possible between nations and between humans. Wars can end, the most bitter of adversaries can become the strongest allies. The fruits of peace always outweigh the plunder of war.”

“It is here that we remember that even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward,” Obama said.

In his remarks, Abe said, "I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place, and also to the souls of the countless innocent people who became the victims of the war."

Abe's visit, announced earlier this month, follows Obama’s traveling this year to Hiroshima, one of two Japanese cities where the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb in 1945 during the final stage of World War II.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy called today's visit "an historic moment for both our countries" and an opportunity to "reflect on the alliance and reconciliation."

"I think, for Americans to see a prime minister come here, it really shows the depth and strength of our alliance," she told ABC News.

Kennedy said the meeting carries personal significance for her, as the daughter of John F. Kennedy, who fought in World War II before beginning his career as a politician.

"My father fought in the Pacific, so I think for me, personally, I can't imagine an event that would be more historic, and I feel so privileged."