Japan Commemorates 74 Years Since End Of Wwii

Japan commemorates 74 years since end of WWII

August 15 is the day people in Japan commemorate the end of the World War Two and pray for peace. In Tokyo, thousands of people have gathered at a government-sponsored ceremony to remember those who perished in the war.

More than 6,000 relatives and others attended the annual event on Thursday to mourn about 3.1 million Japanese who died in the war.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attended the ceremony for the first time since the Emperor ascended the throne in May.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: "The peace and prosperity which we rejoice today are founded on the ultimate sacrifices of all those who perished in the war. This is something we will never forget."

Abe also pledged never to forget the great number of war dead whose remains are yet to return to Japan. He said: "We will do our best so that their remains may return home as soon as possible."

Abe vowed never to repeat the horrors of war, saying, "this pledge has remained true during the Showa and Heisei eras and will by no means change in the Reiwa era."

At noon, the participants observed a minute of silence.

The Emperor said: "My thoughts are with the numerous people who lost their precious lives in the last war and their bereaved families." He said he attends the ceremony "with a deep and renewed sense of sorrow."

He also said: "Looking back on the long period of post-war peace, reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse. I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never again be repeated. Together with all of our people, I now pay my heartfelt tribute to all those who lost their lives in the war, both on the battlefields and elsewhere, and pray for world peace and for the continuing development of our country."

The relatives of the war dead are growing old. About 80 percent of the bereaved relatives who attended the ceremony are aged 70 or older, and only five widows took part this year.

Haru Uchida, whose husband died in the Battle of Okinawa, is 97 years old. She was the oldest of the relatives in attendance.

Uchida said she attends the ceremony every year without fail. She said there are many people who experienced sadness like her, and there should never be any war again.

Ninety-five descendants of war dead under the age of 18 were among the attendees, so that memories of the war will be passed on to future generations.

Among them was 14-year-old Shota Mitani, from Kagawa Prefecture, western Japan. His great-grandfather died in 1945 in what is now Myanmar.

Mitani said he learned of the horrors of war on a school trip to Okinawa, where fierce ground battles were fought. He also said he took part in the Tokyo ceremony to offer flowers to honor his great-grandfather.