Japan, S Korea strike conciliatory note on war anniversary
TOKYO and Seoul struck a conciliatory note yesterday on the anniversary of the end of World War II, with South Korea’s president calling for a “futureoriented” relationship and Japan’s prime minister denouncing the “horrors of war”.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual donation to a controversial Tokyo war shrine but again avoided visiting it, in an apparent nod to China and South Korea.
South Korean President Park Geunhye called for a “future-oriented” relationship with Tokyo even as a group of Seoul lawmakers sparked official anger in Japan by visiting islets claimed by both nations.
August 15 is an emotional date in both countries, remembered in Japan as the day in 1945 when wartime Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender.
In South Korea, it is marked as the day Japan’s harsh and brutal 35-year occupation of the Korean peninsula came to an end.
China, which was partially occupied by Japan from the early 1930s to 1945, marks the end of the war on September 3.
A frequent flashpoint for nationalist tensions is Yasukuni Shrine, which honours millions of war dead, including senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes after the conflict’s end.
Emperor Akihito and Mr Abe both reiterated Japan’s commitment to peace at an official ceremony to commemorate the war dead.
“We shall never again repeat the horrors of war,” Mr Abe said.
The emperor expressed similar sentiments.
“Reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated,” he said.
Ms Park, in her nationally televised speech in Tokyo, stressed the need to look forward.
“We should newly define relations with Japan to forge future-oriented ties,” she said.
Her remarks coincided with the visit by 10 lawmakers to the Dokdo islets where they met South Korean security personnel based there.
Kim Bok-dong, who was forced to serve as a sex slave for Japanese troops during World War II, speaks to the media after a bell-ringing event to mark the 71st anniversary of South Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule in Seoul yesterday.