Japan marks 77th anniversary of wwii surrender

Japan marks 77th anniversary of wwii surrender

On Monday, Japan marked the 77th anniversary of its surrender in World War II, as Russia's nearly six-month old invasion of Ukraine brings renewed attention to the importance of peace.

A government-sponsored ceremony to mourn the around 2.3 million military personnel and 800,000 civilians who died in the war on the Japanese side started before noon in Tokyo, though in a scaled-back form for the third straight year as the country faces another wave of the coronaviruses epidemic.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to never repeat the horrors of war, as the world still faces constant conflicts, in his first speech at the annual ceremony since taking office last October.

Kishida said, under the flag of proactive contributions to peace, we will join the international community and make all-out efforts to solve the problems the world is facing.

The number of attendees at the ceremony at the Nippon Budokan arena was restricted to 1,000, 5,000 fewer than in the pre-pandemic era, but up from 200 last year when the COVID 19 state of emergency was in place. Emperor Naruhito also attended the event.

Kishida, who leads the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, did not discuss Japan's wartime aggression in Asia, after his two immediate predecessors Yoshihide Suga and Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead last month by a lone gunman.

Abe, who returned to a second stint as prime minister in late 2012, made no mention of aggression and remorse, something that Japanese leaders had done at the annual commemoration since 1994, despite pledging Japan would contribute to world peace. Kishida's speech followed the line set by Suga and Abe.

Kishida's constituency is located in the western Japan city of Hiroshima, which was devastated by the world's first atomic bombing in the final days of the war.

At noon, a moment of silence was observed for the war dead, including those killed in the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Kenichi Otsuki, the 83-year-old representative of relatives of the war dead, said in a speech that the world is still witnessing bereaved families in conflicts such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Otsuki, who lost his father in China, pledged to continue to pass down the tragedy of war and the preciousness of peace to future generations, but we have to recognize again that war is not something in the distant past, but something close to us," he said.

The welfare ministry said that people aged over 70 now account for about 80 percent of the total.

The ministry's YouTube channel was used to stream the ceremony on the ministry's YouTube channel for those unable to attend the event due to the restriction on numbers.