Washington, DC…Today we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the formal end of World War II in the Pacific, a conflict that tragically claimed millions of lives across Asia and Oceania and stretched several months beyond the war’s conclusion in the European theater. We salute the American servicemen and women of the Greatest Generation who answered the call of duty in the Pacific, as well as the allied forces with whom they served. We remember those who endured unimaginable suffering as prisoners of war, and we honor the ultimate sacrifice of more than 100,000 U.S. service members who laid down their lives in the Pacific theater to defend our nation and advance the cause of freedom. To them, and to the 16 million Americans who served in the Second World War — those who are no longer with us and our proud veterans today — our debt of gratitude can never be repaid. We live in freedom because of their brave service.
The end of the war marked the beginning of a new era in America’s relationship with Japan. As Prime Minister Abe and I noted during his visit in April, the relationship between our two countries over the last 70 years stands as a model of the power of reconciliation: former adversaries who have become steadfast allies and who work together to advance common interests and universal values in Asia and globally. Seventy years ago this partnership was unimaginable. Today it is a fitting reflection of our shared interests, capabilities, and values, and I am confident that it will continue to deepen in the decades to come.