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60th anniversary of the end of the war in Asia and Pacific commemorated

Monday, August 15, 2005

File map of Japan.

The 60th anniversary of the end of Pacific War, has been commemorated by some people.

The first such commemoration was declared 60 years ago today, after Japan unconditionally surrendered following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as VJ Day in the Allies. In Japan it is called "Commemoration Day of the End of the War". In Korea, one of former colonies of Japan, it has been celebrated as Independence Day, literally the Day when light was retreved. It is commemorated in the USA on 14 August, in most countries, on 15 August.

At yesterday Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi laid a wreath at the Chidorigafuchi military ceremony and today expressed "deep remorse" and "heartfelt apology" for his country's past colonial rule and military aggression at the national commemoration ceremony. He also pledged co-operation with Japan's Asian neighbours to maintain peace and that his country would never go to war again. No such apologies were issued by Western governments for their past colonial rule or military aggressions at this or any other commemorations. There has been an apology made for imprisoning Japanese American citizens during WW2.

The Japanese ceremony was held at about noon, the exact time the surrender had been announced. Over 6000 people including the Emperor and Empress, political, industal, union and religious leaders as well as families of dead soldiers attended the ceremony in Budokan, Tokyo with a wreath being laid. In Japan, this day is the Commemoration Day of the End of the War"; the dead during the war, mainly on the battlefield, are commemorated, not only from World War II, but also the Sino-Japanese War, which lasted for fifteen years from 1930. Flags were lowered to half-mast for their commemoration and at the noon bells, sirens and other means urged the people to pray for them in a minute of silence.

The national commemoration ceremony this year in Japan was characterised by the absence of any parents of dead soldiers for the first time since 1946. The number of testimonies of that period has also declined.

The Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi decided not to go to the Yasukuni Shrine which commemorates Japan's war dead, including 14 indivuduals judged Class A war criminals by the Allies. Forty-one members of the Japanese Diet did, however, visit the shrine, mostly to honour their own ancestors. Last year, Mr Koizumi's visit to the shrine sparked anti-Japanese riots in China.

Commemoration events have already taken place across the United Kingdom, including a major event at Blenheim Palace -- home of the late Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. The UK previously marked the 60th VE Day and VJ Day in a combined national day of commemoration on 10 July.

Today, the Duke of Edinburgh —. Patron of the Burma Star Association and a Royal Navy veteran of the war in the Mediterranean and Pacific —. laid a wreath at the Malta Siege Memorial in central London. He later met with veterans of the Far East conflict at a service in the Imperial War Museum in London.

Prominent guests included Viscount Slim (son of the late Field Marshal Slim, commander of the British Fourteenth Army in Burma), Countess Mountbatten of Burma (daughter of the late Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Theatre), and Dame Vera Lynn.

In Bangkok, Thanpuying Poonsuk Phanomyong, Pridi's widow, attended the unveling of a new memorial dedicated to the Seri Thai at Thammasat University. An exhibition commemorating the end of the war was presided over by the Foreign Minister, Professor Eiji Murashima and Anand Panyarachun.

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