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Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007

Abe expresses regret for war

Staff writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed regret Wednesday for the war and Japan's past misdeeds against its neighbors.

"Our country has inflicted a great amount of damage and suffering on many countries, especially on the people of Asia," Abe said at the annual ceremony, held at Nippon Budokan Hall in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, marking Japan's surrender. "On behalf of the (Japanese) people, I would like to express my deepest condolences and remorse for those whose lives were sacrificed."

The ceremony is held every Aug. 15 to commemorate about 2.3 million Japanese service members and 800,000 Japanese civilians who died in the war. Participants included Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, Abe and other lawmakers, including Yohei Kono, speaker of the House of Representatives.

"Based on the regret over the past war, today I would like to vow that our country will adhere to the renunciation of war, further develop friendly ties with countries throughout the world, become a leader of the international society and actively contribute to establishing everlasting peace in the world," Abe said.

The Emperor also spoke.

"Together with all the Japanese people, I pay a heartfelt tribute to those who lost their lives on the battlefield and fell in the ravages of war, and pray for world peace and further development of our country," he said.

Kono apologized to the victims of war.

"I would like to express my sincere apology and sympathy to people who are still suffering from deep trauma, both physically and mentally, for having their human rights violated by inhumane actions taken by some members of the Japanese army," he said.

Kono is known for his historical statement as chief Cabinet secretary in 1993 in which he recognized the Japanese military's role in forcing the so-called comfort women into brothels.

Satsuki Eda, recently elected president of the House of Councilors, also appeared at the ceremony.

"Our country has inflicted suffering on various people, including (those of) Asia, through our acts of invasion and colonization," Eda said. "Based on deep reflection of the past, it is our responsibility to reconfirm our strong resolution to never repeat such a tragic war and build a peaceful nation trusted by people throughout the world."

A total of 5,991 people, including 4,776 relatives of the war dead, participated in the ceremony. With this year marking the 62nd anniversary of the end of the war, many direct relatives of the war dead are growing old. About 43 percent of the relatives were 70 or older. The oldest in attendance was 101-year-old Koto Matsuoka of Tokyo. She lost lost her son in May 1945 in present-day Myanmar.

The youngest relative was 10-year-old Honokoa Nakaya, the great-granddaughter of naval officer Toyonobu Nakaya, who died in 1944.

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The Japan Times

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