Japan on Saturday marked the 75th anniversary of its surrender in World War II, with Emperor Naruhito expressing “deep remorse” over his country’s wartime actions at a somber annual ceremony.
Naruhito pledged to reflect on the war’s events and expressed hope that the tragedy would never be repeated.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave thanks for the sacrifices of the Japanese war dead.
“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,” Naruhito said in a short speech at the event in Tokyo marking the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945.
About 500 participants, reduced from 6,200 last year, mourned the dead with a minute of silence.
Naruhito has promised to follow in the footsteps of his father, who devoted his 30-year career to making amends for a war fought in the name of Hirohito, the current emperor’s grandfather.
Abe said the peace that Japan enjoys today is built on the sacrifices of those who died in the war. He pledged that Japan will reflect on lessons from history and will not repeat the war devastation.
He listed damage inflicted on Japan and its people, including the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, massive firebombings of Tokyo and the fierce battle of Okinawa.
Abe pledged to play a greater role in tackling global problems. He has steadily pushed to build up Japan’s military in the face of a growing military threat from North Korea and China.
Nobuko Bamba, a retiree whose grandmother, uncle and aunt died in the March 10, 1945, U.S. firebombing of Tokyo, thinks both sides of history should be remembered.
“There are many people who don’t know anything about the war, not only the suffering of the Japanese people, but there are also things that Japanese people did, bad things,” Bamba said.
“Unless we teach these things to future generations, I don’t think war would end.”
She prayed for her uncle, whose remains have never been found.
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