The Daily Manila Shimbun


Japan renews pledge for peace on 72nd war-end anniversary

August 15, 2017

TOKYO- Japan renewed on Tuesday its pledge not to fight a war again at a government-sponsored ceremony to mark the 72nd anniversary of the country's surrender in World War II.

The ceremony, held at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, was attended by some 6,400 people, including Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and relatives of victims of the war.

Participants mourned for some 3.1 million war dead by observing a minute of silence from noon (3 a.m. GMT).

The Emperor expressed his deep remorse over the war in his address at the annual event, as he did in the past two years.

In his speech, Abe said that the path Japan has taken for 72 years as a country that rejects war and pursues peace will not change.

Abe said, "The peace and prosperity that we enjoy exist upon the precious sacrifices" of those who died in the war.

"We will never again repeat the devastation of war," Abe declared.

"Since the end of the war, Japan has consistently walked the path of a country that abhors war and values peace and has been committed to the peace and prosperity of the world," Abe said.

"We will face history humbly and our policy (of pursuing peace) will be unshakable," he added.

He again stopped short of expressing "profound remorse" over the "tremendous damage and suffering" caused by Japan to the people of neighboring countries during the war. These key words were mentioned by his predecessors in their war-end anniversary speeches.

In his address, Emperor Akihito said, "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."

Hajime Watanabe, 83, from Buzen, Fukuoka Prefecture, southwestern Japan, gave a memorial address on behalf of bereaved relatives participating in the ceremony.

"We are determined to pass memories of the horrors of war and importance of life, which we learned through the war, on to the next generation," Watanabe said. His father died in the war on Rabaul in the Bismarck Archipelago, now in Papua New Guinea.

Watanabe also emphasized a resolve to work toward building an international community and Japan that will never engage in war.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, 4,998 bereaved relatives attended the ceremony.

The oldest participant was Harumi Serigano, 101, a resident in Tokyo's Nerima Ward. She lost her husband in the Battle of Okinawa, a savage ground battle between Japan and the US-led allied forces during World War II in the southernmost prefecture.

The youngest participant was six-year-old Shoryu Miyagi from Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, who lost his great-grandfather in the war.

For the seventh consecutive year, there was no parent of the war dead who participated in the annual ceremony. The number of widows of fallen soldiers dropped to a record low.

Meanwhile, the number of participants born after the war has risen year by year. Jiji Press