New emperor tells of 'deep remorse' over war past

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 16 Aug 2019

Japan's new emperor spoke yesterday of "deep remorse" over the country's wartime past, in his first speech to commemorate the end of World War II since his enthronement in May.

Emperor Naruhito's comments were monitored for any change in tone but he closely echoed the language employed by his father Akihito.

"Looking back on the long peaceful years after the war, reflecting on our past, and bearing in mind the feeling of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the devastation of war will never be repeated," said the 59-year-old Naruhito.

"During the 74 years since the end of the war, the peace and prosperity of our country today has been built through the tireless efforts of the people.

"Yet when I think of their past full of suffering, I am truly overcome with deep emotion," Naruhito told the solemn ceremony which also featured a minute's silence for the war dead.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shied away from visiting a controversial shrine that commemorates war dead, including convicted war criminals.

Abe offered "heartfelt respect and gratitude" to Japan's war dead, vowing to "never again repeat the devastation of war" in the new era under Emperor Naruhito.

Naruhito has spoken of the need to "correctly" remember World War II, without playing down Japan's early 20th-century militarism.

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