His Majesty the Emperor, “Based on deep remorse. I hope that war will never be repeated.
On the 15th, the 74th anniversary of the end of the war, the government-sponsored National War Memorial Ceremony was held at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo to commemorate the 3.1 million war dead.
The ceremony, which was the first of its kind since the introduction of the new law, was attended by 6,201 people from all over Japan, including representatives of the bereaved families.
This year, 64 people, including bereaved families from Miyazaki Prefecture, hurriedly decided not to attend the ceremony due to Typhoon No. 10.
His Majesty the Emperor and Empress attended the ceremony for the first time since his accession to the throne in May this year, and took their places on the altar decorated with chrysanthemum flowers. In the past, every year on the day of the end of the war, the Emperor and Empress have observed a moment of silence at their residences, but this year, after the replacement of the Emperor, the Emperor and Empress attended the ceremony in place of the Emperor and Empress.
After Prime Minister Abe delivered his ceremonial address, all the participants observed a minute of silence at the noon time signal.
Then, His Majesty the Emperor delivered the first speech by a postwar emperor.
At the beginning of the speech, His Majesty the Emperor, like the previous Emperors, said, “I renew my deep sorrow for the many people who lost their precious lives and their bereaved families in the last World War.
In the part of the speech that looked back on the progress of Japan after the war, the Emperor’s words, “When I think of the past, full of hardships, I am still deeply moved,” were replaced by “When I think of the progress of the people, full of hardships, I am truly deeply moved.
In the concluding sentence, in which he wished to mourn the war dead and pray for peace, the Emperor changed the phrase “with deep regret” to “based on deep regret,” and said, “I sincerely hope that the horrors of war will never be repeated, and I join with all the people of Japan in expressing our heartfelt condolences to those who have fallen in battle, and in praying for world peace and the further development of our country. I pray for world peace and the further development of our country.
Although some phrases were changed to reflect the generation that did not experience the war, the Emperor’s words were almost identical to those of the previous emperors, such as the expression “deep remorse,” and they conveyed the Emperor’s wish for war and peace.
After the ceremony, Mr. Hirokichi Morimoto, 77, of Minami Ward, Yokohama City, who lost his father in Eastern New Guinea in December 1944, spoke on behalf of the bereaved families, saying, “Many of us are forgotten children who do not know our father’s face or even have memories of him. The bereaved families strongly hope that as many of the remains as possible will be returned to their homeland as soon as possible in accordance with the law that clearly states that the collection of the remains of the war dead is the responsibility of the government. The bereaved families strongly hope that as many remains as possible will be returned to their homeland as soon as possible.
Seventy-four years have passed since the end of the war, and the bereaved families are getting older. About 80% of the bereaved families who attended the ceremony were over 70 years old, and the wives of the war dead numbered only five.
One of the oldest attendees, 97-year-old Ms. Haru Uchida, who lives in Tokyo, lost her husband Kenji, then 36, in Okinawa in June 1945.
Ms. Uchida said, “I attend the memorial service every year without fail. War is absolutely prohibited. There are many sad people like me. It must never happen again.
In addition, 95 young people under the age of 18 attended the ceremony to carry on the memory of the war.
Among them was Shodai Mitani, 14, a junior high school student from Kagawa Prefecture, whose great-grandfather, Kango, was killed in Burma in 1945.
Mr. Mitani said, “When I went to Okinawa on a school trip, I actually visited Himeyuri Tower and Toadstool and realized the tragedy of war. Today, I want to offer flowers to my great-grandfather with a strong sense of consolation for him.
Today, on the occasion of the National Day of Prayer for Peace and Remembrance of the War Dead, I would like to take this opportunity to renew my deep sorrow for the many people who lost their precious lives and their bereaved families in the last World War. In the 74 years since the end of the war, the peace and prosperity of today’s Japan have been built through the tireless efforts of the people, but I am deeply moved when I think of the many hardships the people have endured. While reflecting on the long years of peace that have passed since the end of World War II, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the past and, based on deep remorse, sincerely hope that the horrors of war will never be repeated. Together with all the people of Japan, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to those who were scattered and fell in battle, and to pray for world peace and the further development of our country.
Inheriting the Thoughts of His Majesty the Emperor
His Majesty the Emperor, who was born after World War II, has faced the history of war and prayed for peace, carefully inheriting the thoughts of His Majesty the Emperor.
In the past, His Majesty had mentioned that there were four days in Japan that must be remembered: the day the war ended, the days of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Memorial Day on June 23, when the systematic fighting of the former Japanese Army in the Battle of Okinawa is said to have ended.
Since he was a child, His Majesty the Emperor has also observed these days in silence and listened to the Emperor and his wife talk about the horrors of war.
In the Showa era, the Emperor and Empress had annual meetings with the children of “bean reporters” who came to Tokyo from Okinawa, and the Emperor, still a child, often joined these meetings to deepen his understanding of Okinawan history and culture.
His Majesty visited Okinawa for the first time in 1987, where he attended the memorial service for the war dead and listened to the stories of female students from the war at Himeyuri-no-to.
At the Himeyuri Tower, he listened to the stories of female students who were there at the time of the war. At a press conference later, His Majesty recalled the visit, saying, “I was reminded of the painfulness of the war and the path of hardship that Okinawa had followed before and after the war, and at the same time, I strongly felt the preciousness and importance of peace.
After becoming the Crown Prince in the Heisei era, His Majesty the Emperor showed his desire for war and peace through his actions. He inherited the meeting with the “bean journalists” from the emperor and his wife, and until last year, he had interacted with children and others in Okinawa every year.
Whenever he has had the opportunity to visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki, he has attended memorial services for the war dead, and has often visited facilities where A-bomb survivors live and listened to their words.
During his visit to Mongolia in 2007, he visited the cenotaph for the Japanese who were interned by the former Soviet Union after World War II and lost their lives through hard labor, and laid flowers at the cenotaph.
In 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, His Majesty the Emperor held a press conference on the occasion of his birthday and said, “I myself was born after the war and did not experience the war, but today, as the memory of the war is fading, I would like to humbly look back on the past and hope that the tragic experiences and the history of Japan will be properly conveyed from the generation that experienced the war to the generation that has never known the war. I believe that it is important that the tragic experiences and the history of Japan be passed on correctly from the generation that experienced the war to the generation that does not know the war.
At a press conference held the following year, she said, “I think it is important to always remember the tragedy and inhumanity of war through even the slightest opportunity to come into contact with past experiences, to strive for the memorialization of those who died in war, and to nurture a love of peace so that the horrors of war will never be repeated.
Princess Aiko offers a silent prayer at her residence.
Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko, the eldest daughter of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, also offered a moment of silence at the Akasaka Palace, where she lives, at the time of the noon hour.
According to the Imperial Household Agency, every year on the day the war ends, Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko joins Their Majesties in offering a moment of silence, but this year she did so alone.
Aiko has deepened her thoughts on war and peace by visiting war-related exhibitions with Their Majesties and listening to the stories of bereaved families.
When she was a junior high school student, she visited Hiroshima Peace Park on a school trip, and based on her experience, she wrote an essay entitled “Wishing for World Peace” in her graduation thesis, in which she wrote, “I think that we Japanese, who were born in the only country to have experienced the atomic bombing, need to widely convey to the world what we have seen and felt with our own eyes.
The Emperor and His Wife Also Observe Silence
According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Emperor and his wife also watched the memorial service for the war dead via a live TV program at the Fukiage Sento Palace where they live.
At the time of the noon time signal, they offered a moment of silence.
Persuasive words” by Mr. Hosaka, a non-fiction writer
Mr. Masayasu Hosaka, a non-fiction writer, commented on the Emperor’s words, “I thought the Emperor’s words were quite persuasive, as he inherited the thoughts of the Emperor and the Showa Emperor, even though he did not experience the war. Although I did not know the war directly, I felt a sense of comfort and peace because the Emperor’s words reflect his desire to convey the tragedy of the war.
He also noted that the Emperor had changed the phrase “with deep regret” to “based on deep regret,” which was an important difference. The Emperor’s words express his desire to pass on his ‘deep remorse’ to the next generation, based on a historical perspective of the war.
His feelings toward the bereaved families were strongly conveyed.
Atsumasa Miyagi, 78, chairman of the Okinawa Bereaved Families Association, who attended the memorial service, paid close attention to the words of Emperor Akihito on March 15, as they were exchanged when he visited Okinawa as the Crown Prince.
Commenting on the words, Mr. Miyagi said, “I am glad to hear that the Emperor’s words conveyed his strong feelings for the bereaved families, and that he has certainly inherited the wishes of the Emperor. His words of condolence for the war dead were also very heartfelt,” he said.