Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda vowed on Wednesday not to engage in war and to seek global peace at a government ceremony marking the 67th anniversary of the country`s surrender in World War II.
"Japan, as a member of the international society, renews its pledge to ceaselessly seek the realisation of international peace," Noda said.
Referring to Japan`s responsibility for the country`s wartime aggression in other Asian countries, Noda said, Japan "caused considerable damage and pain to people in many countries, in particular Asian countries. I express deep remorse and offer condolences to the victims and their relatives."
Noda touched on Japan`s ongoing reconstruction effort following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster that devastated northeastern Japan and said the country must "accomplish the mission to revive the nation as a whole through reconstruction efforts”, adding that this should be done also for the war dead as they would have wished for the country`s stability and prosperity.
Noda attended the ceremony, which remembers some 2.3 million soldiers and 800,000 civilians who died in the conflict, for the first time as premier since taking office last September.
Noda`s speech was followed by a moment of silent prayer by the attendees, including Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, other dignitaries and about 4,800 relatives of the war dead.
The emperor said in his speech, "Reflecting on history and sincerely wishing that the tragedy of war will not be repeated, I, along with all the Japanese people, pay my heartfelt tribute to those who lost their lives in battles and ravages of war."
"I pray for world peace and our nation`s further prosperity," the emperor said.
The oldest family member to attend the ceremony was 98-year-old Fumi Shimakura from Takaoka in Toyama Prefecture, whose husband died in the Philippines.
The youngest were four-year-old twins Daito and Yuto Kurosawa from Inzai, Chiba Prefecture, whose great-grandfather died in Burma, now known as Myanmar. (Kyodo)