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Japan’s prime minister expressed deep regret over the suffering his country inflicted on Asian countries during World War II in a solemn ceremony Saturday that marked the 64th anniversary of Tokyo’s surrender.
Prime Minister Taro Aso joined some 4,800 bereaved families to pay respect to 3.1 million Japanese war dead — 2.3 million soldiers and 800,000 civilians — at the Nihon Budokan hall in Tokyo. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko also attended the ceremony, leading a one-minute silence at noon.
“Our country inflicted tremendous damage and suffering on many countries, particularly people in Asia. As a representative of the Japanese people, I humbly express my remorse for the victims, along with deep regret,” Aso said in a speech at the nationally televised ceremony.
The prime minister vowed that Japan would never repeat the tragedy.
Emperor Akihito — whose father Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender in a radio broadcast on Aug. 15, 1945 — said he hoped Japan would never again wage a war…
The prime minister did not attend a controversial war shrine located near the national cemetery. Yasukuni Shrine honors 2.5 million Japanese soldiers who died in wars from the late 1800s until 1945, including convicted war criminals.
Pacifists and the victims of Japanese aggression abhor Yasukuni as a glorification of past militarism and a symbol of Japan’s conquest in Asia, including the invasion and occupation of China and Korea.
Two former Prime Ministers continued their devotion to war and imperialism by visiting Yasukuni. Their leadership of the right wing of Japan’s dominant Liberal Democratic Party maintains the growing split in that party – in the face of declining fortunes.
Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, has called for the construction of a non-religious war memorial to replace the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for official visits. Someplace that doesn’t include a niche for war criminals.
UPDATE: Looks like the election rocked.