Japan remembers WWII surrender

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by spidge, Oct 21, 2007.

  1. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Japan remembers WWII surrender

    Posted Wed Aug 15, 2007 12:47pm AEST
    Updated Wed Aug 15, 2007 12:49pm AEST
    [​IMG] The Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo honours wartime leaders convicted as war criminals, along with millions of war dead. (Reuters: Kim Kyung-Hoon)

    Japan has marked the anniversary of its World War II surrender with a low-key ceremony as it aims to repair ties with its neighbours.
    While the current Government stayed away, former premier Junichiro Koizumi visited a controversial war shrine.
    Passers-by cheered as Mr Koizumi, who left office last September, paid a silent, early-morning pilgrimage to the Yasukuni shrine, which honours war dead and war criminals alike and has been a source of friction.
    Last year, Mr Koizumi became the first sitting prime minister in 21 years to visit the sprawling Shinto shrine in central Tokyo on the sensitive surrender anniversary, triggering protests by China and South Korea.
    Veterans and nationalist activists converge on the Yasukuni shrine every year on August 15, which also falls during the Bon holiday when the Japanese pay respects to the dead.
    Built in 1869, the shrine venerates some 2.5 million people who died in 11 Japanese wars. The names include colonial subjects and -- most controversially -- 14 top war criminals from World War II.
    But current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet are expected to stay away from the Yasukuni shrine this year amid a concerted effort to mend ties with Beijing and Seoul since Koizumi stepped down.
    Instead, the conservative leader is scheduled to join Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at a secular annual ceremony at an auditorium to mourn the war dead.
    Seizo Noguchi, an 87-year-old navy veteran who prays at the Yasukuni shrine every August 15, said he wished Mr Abe had come to the shrine but understood he "faces opposition from the outside".
    "But I'm sure that in his heart he would like to visit the shrine and that's enough for me," Mr Noguchi said.
    The secular ceremony was to get take place at noon local time, the moment 62 years ago that Emperor Akihito's father Hirohito went on the radio to announce Japan had to "bear the unbearable" and surrender.
    Emperor Hirohito, revered as divine and who had never spoken before to the public, surrendered as Japan's cities lay in ruins, with two of them destroyed by US nuclear bombs.
    The capitulation ended World War II, considered the deadliest conflict in world history.
    Passions about the war still run high in East Asia, with many Chinese and Koreans resentful over Japanese atrocities on their soil.
    Mr Abe is known for his conservative views on history and he has frequently visited the Yasukuni shrine in the past.
    He has cited improved ties with China and South Korea as a key achievement of his nearly year-long tenure.
    But his approval rating is dwindling and he suffered a major election defeat last month after a raft of domestic scandals.
    - AFP

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