Japan’s PM shuns shrine, apologises at WWII ceremony
Tokyo: Japan`s new liberal Prime Minister shunned a visit to a shrine that has outraged Asian neighbours for honouring war criminals, breaking from past governments` tradition and instead apologising on Sunday for the suffering World War II caused.
Members of the now-opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled Japan nearly continuously since the end of the war, made a point by carrying out their own trip to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The Shinto shrine — a spectacular building with sweeping roofs and a museum in its grounds that glorifies kamikaze pilots — has set off controversy by honouring the 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including Class A war criminals such as Hideki Tojo, Japan`s war-time prime minister who was executed in 1948.
Among those who visited Yasukuni was LDP leader Sadakazu Tanigaki and former prime minister Shintaro Abe. About 40 legislators went to the shrine, but none from Prime Minister Naoto Kan`s Cabinet, according to Japanese media reports.
Kan leads the Democratic Party, which took power last after winning elections on promises of greater transparency and grass-roots democracy. It is the first time since the end of World War II that the entire Japanese Cabinet has avoided visiting Yasukuni on August 15, the day Japan surrendered in the war.
"We caused great damage and suffering to many nations during the war, especially to the people of Asia," Kan told a crowd of about 6,000 at an annual memorial service for the war dead at Budokan hall in Tokyo.
"We feel a deep regret, and we offer our sincere feelings of condolence to those who suffered and their families," he said. "We renew our promise to never wage war, and we promise to do our utmost to achieve eternal world peace and to never repeat again the mistake of war."
Among those listening to Kan`s words were Emperor Akihito, whose father Hirohito announced the surrender 65 years ago in a radio broadcast — the first time the Japanese public had heard the real voice of the emperor, who had been revered as a living god to justify imperial expansion.
Akihito, who has never visited Yasukuni, led a moment of silence at noon, bowing deeply before a stage filled with yellow and white chrysanthemums.
The families and friends of more than three million Japanese who died in war, including a gray-haired woman in a wheelchair clutching a black-and-white photo of a soldier, bowed their heads in silence for a minute.
Japanese media reports identified the woman as Chiyoka Takakura, 96, whose husband died in the Philippines.
"I feel once again a deep sadness for those many who lost their precious lives and for their families," Akihito said, attending the ceremony with his wife Michiko. "I pray for the continued prosperity of our nation and for world peace."
Tomoaki Iwai, a professor of politics at Nihon University, said Kan`s shunning the Yasukuni visit underlined the Democrats` liberal-leaning pacifist policies.
"His decision is in line with what would be expected of the Democrats," he said.
Kan also paid respect at a far less controversial memorial for the war dead, laying a bouquet before a grave for Japanese soldiers.
Last week, he apologised to South Korea for its 1910-45 colonial rule. Imperialist Japan committed atrocities in Asia, including forcing Koreans to fight as front-line soldiers, work in slave-labour conditions and serve as prostitutes in military-run brothels.
In Seoul, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, speaking on Sunday before a crowd packing a plaza near the former royal palace, said history should not be forgotten but urged Japan and his nation to work together for a new future.
"I have taken note of Japan`s effort, which represents one step forward," Lee said of Kan`s apology.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Salman Khan attends sister Arpita's wedding reception in Mandi
- 2G scam: Ex-TRAI chief alleges Manmohan Singh had warned him to cooperate
- Zee Media's mega survey on Modi govt
- I eat beef, can somebody stop me?: Kiren Rijiju hits back at Naqvi
- Zee Media Exclusive: Vidya Balan chats about 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani'
- Delhi: Visually impaired boy scores 91.4% in CBSE 12th Board exams
- MP: 14-year-old boy works as bonded labour since 2009
- UP: Man chops off wife's nose, hair for dowry
- Zee Media Exclusive: The plight of yoga expert Tejaswi Sharma
- Woman denied flat in Mumbai for being a Muslim
- 4 Indians in Forbes' 100 most powerful women list
- BBV: What challenges lie ahead of Modi govt?
- DNA analysis of rising water crisis in India!
- Gujjar stir: HC asks Rajasthan govt to clear rail track, roads
- DNA: Delhi shop owners express their plight through Zee initiative 'My News'
- Arpita-Aayush wedding reception: Salman Khan spreads love in Mandi, says `hum aapke hain`
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 (cbse.nic.in, cbseresults.nic.in) postponed?
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 to be announced today
- Check mahresult.nic.in for MSBSHSE Maharashtra Class 12 HSC Result 2015
- Maharashtra MSBSHSE HSC Result 2015 on mahresult.nic.in
- MSBSHSE Class 12th HSC results 2015 to be declared at 1pm tomorrow
- Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at one year of Modi govt, wishes 'happy birthday' to 'suit-boot ki sarkar'
- I was misquoted, says Kiren Rijiju on 'beef' remark
- mahresult.nic.in updated with MSBSHSE Maharashtra HSC Class XII Result 2015
- First look: Salman Khan steals thunder in `Bajrangi Bhaijaan`
- CBSE 10th result to be declared tomorrow
- Check mahresult.nic.in for Maharashtra HSC Result 2015 to be announced at 1 pm on May 27
- Manmohan Singh defends himself on 2G charge, slams Modi govt for 'carbon copy' schemes
- Sonia Gandhi 'unconstitutional authority' during UPA: PM Narendra Modi
- Reservation stir: Five percent job quota to Gujjars unlikely, hints Rajasthan govt