Japan marks 67th anniversary of WWII’s end

Aug 15, 2012, 3:03 PM

Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) – Japan marked the 67th anniversary of its World War II surrender with a somber ceremony in the capital Wednesday, while renewed tension over territorial disputes and animosity over its wartime actions heated up across the region.

Renewing Japan’s pledge to maintain its war-renouncing policy, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda mourned for the war dead and apologized to victims of Japanese wartime atrocities.

“We have caused tremendous damage and pain to many countries, particularly the Asian people, during the war. We deeply regret that and sincerely mourn for those who were sacrificed and their relatives,” Noda said. “We will not repeat the same mistake.”

Emperor Akihito, whose father made the unprecedented 1945 national radio address announcing the war could not be won, also offered prayers for the dead.

Simmering tensions between Japan and its neighbors have threatened to boil over in recent weeks.

Tokyo was angered by a recent visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to contested islands in the Sea of Japan, called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean. The visit was seen by many as an attempt by Lee to play up anti-Japan sentiment ahead of elections later this year.

A group of South Korean protesters swam across the sea to the island Wednesday, while a shipload of activists from Hong Kong was heading to another set of disputed islands in the East China Sea claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.

The Hong Kong boat briefly entered the territorial waters around the islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, as Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessels warned against entry, Chief Cabinet Spokesman Osamu Fujimura said. The Prime Minister’s Office also set up a taskforce in case of emergency, he said.

In a ceremony celebrating Japan’s defeat, Lee on Wednesday condemned Japan for forcing thousands of Korean women into sexual slavery to Japanese soldiers during the war.

Historians say up to 200,000 “comfort women,” many of them also from China and the Philippines, were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers at military brothels during the war. Japan has apologized and initiated a private fund as a way to pay the women without providing official compensation, but many of the women rejected the offer, demanding a formal apology and state compensation.

On Tuesday, Lee said Japan’s emperor should apologize to Koreans who died while fighting for their liberation from Japan if he wants to visit South Korea.

Noda called Lee’s remark “puzzling and regrettable.”

Japan lodged a protest to South Korea over Lee’s emperor remark, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said, denying Japan has ever discussed with South Korea a visit by the emperor.

“Making words and actions that only inflame nationalism at a time we need to respond calmly would only go against South Korea’s own interest,” Gemba said. He also said Japan is considering bringing the island dispute to the International Court of Justice.

While Japan routinely apologizes for its wartime actions, its politicians often anger countries that bore the brunt of its colonial aggression by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, a Japanese memorial honoring the war dead including top war criminals.

Two Japanese ministers from Noda’s Cabinet _ Jin Matsubara, head of the National Public Safety Commission and Yuichiro Hata, the transport minister _ and dozens of national lawmakers visited the war shrine on Wednesday.

Matsubara said he visited Yasukuni in his private capacity.

“I was only truthful to my own principle as a Japanese citizen,” he said.


Associated Press writer Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

A fisherman watches smoke rise after Russian forces launched a missile attack on a military unit in...
Associated Press

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters hit by drone strike

An explosive device carried by a makeshift drone blew up Sunday at the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean Peninsula.
12 days ago
Medical syringes are seen with 'Monkeypox' sign displayed on a screen in the backgound in this illu...
Associated Press

Monkeypox declared a global emergency by UN health agency

The expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global emergency.
20 days ago
Chinese paramilitary policemen march in front of the Japanese embassy where the Japanese flag is fl...
Associated Press

Japan’s ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated during a speech

TOKYO (AP) — Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated Friday on a street in western Japan by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech — an attack that stunned a nation with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere. The 67-year-old Abe, who was Japan’s […]
1 month ago
Firefighters hose down a burning car after a strike hit a residential area, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk ...
Associated Press

Russia taking ‘operational pause’ in Ukraine, analysts say

Analysts say Russia may be taking an "operational pause" in eastern Ukraine to reassemble forces for a significant offensive.
1 month ago
Prime Minister Boris Johnson enters 10 Downing Street, after reading a statement in London, Thursda...
Associated Press

One scandal too many: British PM Boris Johnson resigns

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation Thursday after droves of top government officials quit over the latest scandal to engulf him, marking an end to three tumultuous years in which he tried to bluster his way through one ethical lapse after another. Months of defiance ended almost with a shrug as […]
1 month ago
Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Japan marks 67th anniversary of WWII’s end