Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi observed the 60th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II on Monday by apologizing for the country’s past militarism in Asia and pledging to uphold its postwar pacifism.
In a speech at a government-sponsored memorial service at the Nippon Budokan hall here, Mr. Koizumi also reached out directly to China and South Korea by saying that the three nations should work together "in maintaining peace and aiming at development in the region."
Mr. Koizumi joined Emperor Akihito, who said he hoped that "the horrors of war will never be repeated," in bowing before an altar of chrysanthemums. Exactly sixty years ago, the emperor’s father, Emperor Hirohito, spoke directly to the Japanese people for the first time when he announced Japan’s surrender over the radio, saying they should "bear the unbearable and endure the unendurable."
In the first apology delivered on Aug. 15 by a prime minister since the 50th anniversary of the war’s end, Mr. Koizumi said: "Our country has caused tremendous damage and pain to the peoples of many countries, especially Asian countries, through colonial rule and invasion. Humbly acknowledging such facts of history, I once again reflect most deeply and offer apologies from my heart."
He added, "I would like to forge a future-oriented relationship of cooperation based on mutual understanding and confidence with Asian countries by squarely facing up to the past and correctly understanding history."
Archive for August 15th, 2005
On the 40th Anniversary of the Beatles playing at Shea Stadium, perhaps peace does have a chance. Israel is withdrawing from Gaza, and Japan has apologized to China and South Korea. Frankly, the latter seemed the least likely in my house.
Japan was as brutal an occupier as Hitler, Stalin, or any other tyrant you could think of. I did not know this too well until my wife told me some personal stories of her parent’s upbringing in the 30′s and 40′s in occupied Korea. Suffice to say that when those among us who cherish peace say "never again" let us also mean what occurred in Asia in the 20th century.