Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in his address largely focused on the damages Japan suffered on its turf, including the US atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and massive firebombings across the country.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has renewed Japan's no-war pledge at a sombre ceremony to mark his country's 77th anniversary of its World War II defeat.
In his first address as prime minister since taking office in October, Kishida said on Monday Japan will “stick to our resolve to never repeat the tragedy of the war."
Kishida did not mention Japanese aggression across Asia in the first half of the 20th century or the victims in the region.
Kishida largely focused on the damages Japan suffered on its turf — the US atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, massive firebombings across Japan and the bloody ground battle on Okinawa.
He said the peace and prosperity that the country enjoys today is built on the suffering and sacrifices of those who died in the war.
Emperor Naruhito repeated his “deep remorse” over Japan's wartime actions in a nuanced phrase in his speech, like his father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who devoted his career to making amends for a war fought in the name of the wartime emperor, Hirohito, the current emperor’s grandfather.
A minute of silence
Some 900 participants observed a minute of silence at noon during the ceremony held at the Budokan arena.
The crowd was reduced from about 5,000 before the pandemic, participants were asked to wear masks, and there was no singing of the national anthem.
While Kishida on Monday stayed away from praying at the Yasukuni Shrine and sent a religious ornament instead, three of his Cabinet members visited — Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi and Disaster Reconstruction Minister Kenya Akiba earlier Monday and Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on Saturday.
“I paid respects to the spirits of those who sacrificed their lives for the national policy,” Takaichi told reporters, adding that she also prayed so that there will be no more war dead in Ukraine.
Victims of Japanese actions during the first half of the 20th century, especially China and the Koreas, see the shrine as a symbol of Japanese militarism because it honours convicted war criminals among about 2.5 million war dead.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, on Sunday after Nishimura’s visit, criticised it as "Japanese government’s erroneous attitude toward historical issues."
Wang urged Japan to “deeply reflect on its history of aggression, properly handle relevant issues with a sense of responsibility and win the trust of its Asian neighbours and the larger international community through concrete actions.”