Japanese Emperor Akihito marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Saturday (July 15) with an expression of “deep remorse” over the conflict.
The legacy of the war still haunts relations with China and South Korea, which suffered under Japan’s sometimes brutal occupation and colonial rule.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe send a cash offering to Yasikuni Shrine for war dead, seen by Beijing and Seoul as a symbol of Tokyo’s wartime militarism.
Visits to Yasikuni by top Japanese officials outrage China and South Korea because it honours 14 Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal.
Abe, who wants to repair ties with Japan’s neighbours, has not visited the shrine in person since 2013.
On Friday, Abe expressed “profound grief” for Japan’s actions, upheld the “unshakeable” apologies made by previous governments and pledged that Tokyo would “never wage a war again.”
However, he pointed to the fact that post-war generations make up more than 80 percent of the country’s population, adding: “We must not let our children, grandchildren and even further generations to come, who had nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologise.”
Abe’s conservative supporters are keen for Japan to put an end to what they see as a humiliating cycle of apologies.
“We need to terminate [the apology cycle] for our grandchildren and the grandchildren’s grandchildren,” said a 64-year-old man visiting Yasukuni on Saturday.