French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday appointed Bernard Cazeneuve, the former Interior Minister, as the new Prime Minister, replacing Manuel Valls, media reported.
The Elysee Palace’s announcement of Cazeneuve’s appointment came minutes after Valls left the President’s office where he handed in his resignation to Hollande, Efe news agency reported.
“Manuel Valls has resigned and the President has appointed Bernard Cazeneuve as the new Prime Minister,” a spokeswoman for the Elysee said.
“I would like to send this commitment. At the same time, I would like to send a message of reconciliation between Japan and the US”.
The White House confirmed that Obama and Abe would visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on December 27.
It said “the two leaders’ visit will showcase the power of reconciliation that has turned former adversaries into the closest of allies, united by common interests and shared values.”
Defence Secretary Ash Carter, on an official trip to Japan, said he would tell Abe at a meeting later today how pleased Obama and the US are.
The announcement of the summit comes as Japan worries about the direction of US foreign policy under Obama’s successor, Donald Trump.
Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior research fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, said that together with Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, the Pearl Harbor visit will complete the reconciliation process and help smooth bilateral relations under any administration.
“Historical disputes tend to be brought up when relations become thorny … but once you put them behind and move on, it makes a difference if there is any negative sentiment in the future,” he said.
But Koichi Nakano, a professor of international politics at Tokyo’s Sophia University, said the Pearl Harbor visit and Abe’s commitment to the Japan-US alliance are tantamount to “giving a blank check to Trump” despite the uncertainty over bilateral relations under his administration.
More than 2,300 US servicemen died in the aerial attack, which will be marked on Wednesday at Pearl Harbor with a remembrance ceremony and a moment of silence at 7:55 AM, when the Japanese planes hit their first target.