Japan on Sunday commemorated the 76th 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 again be repeated,” the emperor said, while also touching on the “unprecedented ordeal” inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Attending the ceremony for the third time as emperor, Emperor Naruhito made the remarks during the annual memorial service, as he did in previous years.
Held in Nippon Budokan, the ceremony was scaled back due to the coronavirus, with around 185 people attending, the lowest on record since the government began holding the event in 1963, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made his first address at the ceremony since taking office last year, vowing to help solve the world’s problems “under the flag of proactive contributions to peace.”
However, Suga’s speech mainly followed that of his predecessor Shinzo Abe, with no reference to Japan’s wartime aggression and atrocities in Asia.
Abe sparked a backlash when he modified his speech to remove any mention of aggression and remorse after he took office in December 2012.
Japan brutally occupied many parts of Asia before and during WWII, inflicting untold suffering to millions of Asian people.
Historians said hundreds of thousands of Asian women, mostly from China and the Korean Peninsula, were kidnapped, coerced or duped into sexual servitude for Japanese troops during WWII.
Apart from occupying neighboring countries during the war, the Japanese army also conducted experiments on victims, many of whom were still alive when all sorts of acts of inhuman cruelty were committed against them.
There were numerous more heinous incidents carried out by the Japanese army that until this day have received far less coverage in textbooks, or in globally televised memorial services.