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AFP
August 16, 2019

Japan’s new emperor speaks of ‘deep remorse’ in first speech

World

AFP
August 16, 2019

TOKYO: Japan’s new emperor spoke on Thursday of "deep remorse" over the country’s wartime past in his first speech to commemorate the end of World War II since his enthronement in May.

Emperor Naruhito’s comments were being monitored in Tokyo and throughout Asia for any change in tone, but he closely echoed the language employed by his father Akihito.

"Looking back on the long peaceful years after the war, reflecting on our past, and bearing in mind the feeling of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the devastation of war will never be repeated," said the 59-year-old Naruhito.

"During the 74 years since the end of the war, the peace and prosperity of our country today has been built through the tireless efforts of the people. "Yet when I think of their past full of suffering, I am truly overcome with deep emotion," Naruhito told the solemn ceremony in central Tokyo which also featured a minute’s silence for the war dead.

Meanwhile, conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shied away from visiting a controversial shrine that commemorates war dead, including convicted war criminals, that has become a flashpoint with Japan’s neighbours, especially China and South Korea.

This year’s ceremonies came as Tokyo and South Korea -- one of the countries that suffered most from Japan’s wartime military atrocities -- are embroiled in a war of words over trade and history.

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