Yoshihide Suga promised to do everything in his power to keep the horrors of war from ever happening again on Aug. 15. The prime minister made the remarks on the 76th anniversary of Japan’s World War II defeat.
“Since the end of the war, Japan has consistently walked the path of a country that values peace,” he said according to Reuters.
Suga did not express any remorse about the tragedies of war, and chose to learn from past mistakes.
“We must never again repeat the devastation of war,” he said according to the newswire agency. “We will continue to remain committed to this conviction.”
The prime minister recognized the Land of the Rising Sun’s peace is due to the sacrifices of those who perished at war. This included the battle of Okinawa and United States’s atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and firebombing of Tokyo plus other towns.
Emperor Naruhito acknowledged “deep remorse” about Japan’s brutal past. He followed in his footsteps of his father who dedicated his 30-year monarch career to apologizing for wars in the name of former Emperor Hirohito, according to the Associated Press.
The incumbent also expressed hope for Japanese hearts to unite in the face of hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. He also wished happiness and peace to all of his subjects.
The prime minister avoided visiting the Yasukuni shrine in central Tokyo, and instead offered a religious gift. The shrine has been a diplomatic sore for South Korea and China, because it allegedly honors convicted war criminals and nearly 2.5 million war victims.
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who resigned in 2020, still visited the structure with three incumbent members of Suga’s Cabinet on Aug. 15.
South Korea and China are not happy with Suga’s words. The nations believe the Japanese prime minister should publicly apologize to victims of war in other countries, if there are to be future reconciliations and stronger diplomatic relations.
“[We want] sincere remorse through action,” South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was similarly dissatisfied with Suga’s religious gift to the shrine. A representative claimed trust can only be achieved through true actions.
The shrine welcomed many visitors including children and people in military uniform on the anniversary. Conservatives believe national leaders have the right to honor victims of war at the shrine.