Unlike President Obama, who condemned the "mistaken" American foreign policy that led to dropping nuclear bombs in Japan, today at Pearl Harbor Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered condolences for the departed, but stopped short of apologizing for or condemning Japanese policy during World War 2.
Abe, while speaking of his country's continued promise to avoid waging war, even conceded the Japanese "harbor quiet pride in the past."
Obama, who spoke after Abe, took a dig at Donald Trump.
"It is here that we remember, even when a hatred burns, a tug of tribalism at the most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward and resist the urge to demonize those who are different," he said, using his common attack line on Trump. "The sacrifice made here, the anguish of war, it reminds us to seek a divine spark that is common to all of humanity."
Last May Obama visited Hisoshima, where while not apologizing for America dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he did describe the bombings as a "mistake."
"For this, too, is what makes our species unique," he said. "We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose."
"We have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again," he said.
He also said America has not lived up to its founding ideal that all men are created equal.
"Realizing that ideal has never been easy," Obama said. "Even within our own borders, even among our own citizens."
At Pearl Harbor, Abe praised American benevolence in the wake of WW2.
"When the war ended and Japan was a nation in burnt out ruins, as far as the eye could see, suffering poverty, it was the United States and the good people who sent us food to eat and clothes to wear," he said. "The Japanese people survived and made their way to the future, thanks to the fritters and milk from the American people. It was the United States who opened up the path to the international community after the war. Under the leadership of the United States, Japan was able to enjoy peace and prosperity. The goodwill and the assistance that you sent to the Japanese, the enemy you had fought so fiercely, together with the spirit of tolerance, were etched.
President Obama also used his Hiroshima speech to repeat his call for nations like the U.S. to eliminate their stockpiles of nuclear weapons -- a topic Abe did not address in Pearl Harbor.
"We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves," he said. "But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them."
After WW2, Obama said, "An international community established institutions and treaties that work to avoid war and aspire to restrict and roll back and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons."