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August 16, 2019

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Bowing in remembrance of war

Japan yesterday marked the 74th anniversary of its surrender in World War II, with Emperor Naruhito expressing his “deep remorse” over Japan’s wartime actions at an annual mourning ceremony in Tokyo.

“Looking back on the long period of postwar peace, reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated,” said Emperor Naruhito, who ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in May, in his first appearance at the ceremony.

The emperor, whose ascension saw Japan’s new “Reiwa” era ushered in, also said that he hoped the ravages of war would never be repeated apart from conveying his deep remorse.

The expression “deep remorse” used by the 59-year-old was the same as that used by his 85-year-old father, former Emperor Akihito, in ceremonies to mark the war in recent years.

Akihito, who abdicated the throne in late April, had used the words deep remorse in every address since the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in 2015. However, Emperor Naruhito, unlike his father, has never experienced war personally, as he was born after the end of WWII.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his address at the ceremony at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda district, vowed not to repeat the tragedy of war, stating that Japan “deeply recalls the lessons of history.”

In a departure from years past since Abe assumed office in 2012, the Japanese leader opted not to specifically mention Japan’s brutal past.

“Over 3 million of our countrymen’s lives were lost during the war. We will never forget that the peace and prosperity, we are enjoying now, are built on the ultimate sacrifices of the war dead,” Abe said.

At the ceremony, floral tributes were paid by teenagers as a way of saying that the enormity, aggression, devastation and sheer horror of the war waged by Japan should never be forgotten and should be remembered by Japan’s younger generations.

A moment of silence was observed at the Nippon Budokan at noon for the lives lost in the war, including the hundreds of thousands of civilians, as well as those who perished in the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Nearly 80 percent of the bereaved in attendance were in their 70s or above. The oldest was 97-year-old Haru Uchida from Hachioji in Tokyo, while the youngest was 4.

Civil groups and anti-war organizations held gatherings of different scales across the country to mourn for the deceased and express their hope for peace.

Both seniors and youngsters attended these gatherings, expressing their idea that “Japan should not resort to force and should take a peaceful way,” NHK General TV reported.

Japan brutally occupied many parts of Asia before and during the war causing untold suffering and death to hundreds of thousands.

Many atrocities carried out by the Japanese have received far less coverage in educational textbooks, or in globally televised memorial services.


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