Prime Minister Abe Shinzo paid tribute to fallen warriors at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl shortly after arriving in Honolulu Monday.

It was a short and solemn visit to the final resting place of American soldiers, sailors, and marines who died during the war.

Abe also made a point to pay his respects at the grave site of Senator Dan Inouye--also a decorated war veteran.

Then it was on to the Makiki Cemetery where 16 sailors of the Japan Imperial Navy have been entombed since the 1800's.

The flag of the rising sun and the U.S. flag flew over what's been described as the oldest naval cemetery outside of Japan.

The entourage then stopped off at the Ehime Maru memorial at Kakaako park to pay respects to victims of a collision between a US  nuclear submarine and a Japanese training vessel which killed several students 15 years ago.

This isn’t Abe's first visit to the islands but the trip is significant, not just because of the 75th anniversary but because of President Obama's previous trip to Japan.

It is a rare event with two heads of state coming together in the islands to make a symbolic gesture.

“It is the action more than words I think is what people will say. Maybe without even apologies, action itself means a lot. Just like when President Obama visited Hiroshima," said Sal Miwa of the Japan American Society.

East West Center Asia Pacific expert Denny Roy believes Abe's symbolic visit cements the alliance between the two allies and is a step toward maturing reconciliation which to some-- without an apology --is incomplete.

Local residents and visitors from Japan we talked to seem to agree the visit is a good thing.

"I believe this sends a strong message to the rest of the world that two counties that were once bitter enemies can really be allies the closest of friends, and their people can come together," said Kakaako resident Shawn Saito.

"Very important. Very good today," said Fukuoka visitor Toshi Yuki.

Yuki was with tour group from Tokyo on their first sightseeing trip to Hawaii. He was pleased to be able to witness their prime minister's historic visit.

Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan was on hand for the wreath laying, a prelude to Tuesday’s symbolic visit at Pearl Harbor's Arizona Memorial.