Japan will ‘never repeat the tragedy of war,’ PM vows on 78th anniversary of unconditional WWII surrender

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reaffirmed the nation’s anti-war pledge at a ceremony remembering the end of World War II.

Kishida made the remarks in an address at Japan’s National Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead, hosted in Tokyo on Tuesday.

“More than 3 million of our compatriots lost their lives during the war. Some fell on the battlefields worrying about the future of their homeland and wishing for the happiness of their families. Others perished in remote foreign countries after the war,” Kishida said in the address.

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Japan WWII Memorial Tokyo

Japanese flags are seen during the memorial service for the war dead at Nippon Budokan martial arts hall Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023, in Tokyo. Japan marked Tuesday the 78th anniversary of the end of World War II. (Kyodo News via AP)

“And many fell victim to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the air raids on numerous cities, and the ground battles in Okinawa, among others. Here, before the souls of all who lost their lives, I offer my heartfelt prayers for their repose,” he continued.

Following the end of World War II, the United States crafted a new constitution for Japan that forfeited its right to declare war. Since then, Japan has kept only a small “Self-Defense Force” and advocated proactively for peace.

“We must never again repeat the devastation of war. We will remain committed to this resolute pledge. In this world in which conflicts have not yet ceased, under the banner of ‘Proactive Contribution to Peace,’ Japan is determined to join forces with the international community and do its utmost to resolve the various challenges facing the world,” Kishida said.

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Japan Nippon Budokan Emperor Naruhito

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, right, and Empress Masako observe a moment of silence during a memorial service for the war dead as Japan marks the 78th anniversary of Japan’s World War II defeat, at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Kyodo News via AP)

The prime minister has been an outspoken proponent of re-militarizing Japan in order to ensure national security amid increasingly unstable diplomacy in the Pacific and abroad.

“We shall carve out the future of our nation for the sake of the present generations and the generations of the future,” he concluded in his Tuesday address. “Since the end of the war, Japan has consistently walked the path of a peace-loving nation. Taking the lessons of history deeply into our hearts, we have made all possible efforts for world peace and prosperity.”

Emperor Naruhito — the head of state and living symbol of the Japanese people — presided over the event, expressing “deep remorse” for Japan’s role in World War II.

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Japan Kishida Naruhito Emperor Tokyo

Japanese Emperor Naruhito, left, and Empress Masako, right, look at Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida bowing to the altar during the memorial ceremony for the war dead at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. Japan held the annual memorial service for the war dead as the country marks the 78th anniversary of its defeat in the World War II. (Kyodo News via AP)

Kishida’s address was strikingly similar to speeches made by prime ministers in the recent past, borrowing heavily from his own previous addresses.

On the same day, Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi, former Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi and former Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda paid respects at the nearby Yasukuni Shrine.

The shrine is dedicated to the nation’s war dead, including thousands of war criminals, and has proven controversial with progressive, anti-military groups inside and outside Japan.

Japan Yasukuni Shrine

Members of right wing groups with Japanese national flags, enter the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023, in Tokyo. Japan holds annual memorial service for the war dead as the country marks the 78th anniversary of its defeat in the World War II. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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The horrific human atrocity of World War II formally ended aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay after Japan formally signed documents on Sept. 2, 1945.

The ceremony lasted just 23 minutes.

Yet, it ended more than a total decade of devastating global conflict that killed 60 million people or more in Asia, Europe and Africa, and in other battles fought on land, air and sea around the world.

Fox News Digital’s Kerry J. Byrne contributed to this report.

Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at timothy.nerozzi@fox.com

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