Emperor asks nation to learn from WWII as it looks to future

Kyodo

Emperor Akihito released his “New Year Thoughts” on Thursday, issuing a call to learn from history in the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

“I think it is most important for us to take this opportunity to study and learn from the history of this war, starting with the Manchurian Incident of 1931, as we consider the future direction of our country,” the 81-year-old Emperor said in the statement released via the Imperial Household Agency.

“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, which cost many people their lives. Those who died on the battlefields, those who died in the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those who died in the air raids on Tokyo and other cities — so many people lost their lives in this war,” he said.

The Emperor and Empress Michiko plan to visit Palau in early April to console the souls of the war dead. The couple visited Saipan for the same purpose in June 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the war’s end.

The Emperor also mentioned the heavy snow, torrential rain and the eruption of Mount Ontake in 2014.

“My thoughts go out to those who lost their loved ones and their homes in those disasters,” he said.

As for the ongoing 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, he said: “It pains me to think that there are still so many people who cannot return to the places they used to live because of radioactive contamination and so many who face the prospect of a cold, harsh winter in temporary housing.”

The couple plan to attend a ceremony in Kobe on Jan. 17 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake and a ceremony for the 2011 disasters on March 11.

The Emperor and Empress received New Year’s greetings at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Thursday from the rest of the Imperial family, lawmakers and the ambassadors of around 120 countries.

“As a new year begins, I wish for the prosperity of the nation and the happiness of its people,” the Emperor said.

Among those offering greetings were Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, whose daughter Princess Kako joined the greeting ceremony for the first time after turning 20 last month.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his Cabinet ministers, the heads of the Diet’s two chambers and the chief justice of the Supreme Court were among officials who extended congratulations to the Emperor and Empress.

  • Ron NJ

    I had high hopes upon seeing the title of this article, but should have known better – nary a mention of the POWs and civilians that were tortured, tested upon, and executed by the Japanese in direct contravention to the Geneva conventions, the millions of Chinese civilians who died as a result of the invasion of China, or the women subjected to sexual slavery, but of course you’ll mention the comparatively few civilians who died in the atomic bombings that brought about the end of the war and prevented the literal millions of casualties that would have occurred in an invasion of the home islands. Just more typical victim complex rhetoric from those who were belligerents in one of the most destructive wars in human history but can’t seem to accept that fact – business as usual in Japan, sadly.

  • Carmen Sterba

    I believe what the emperor said does mean something. He is not his father. Instead, he used the words, “I think it is most important for us to take this opportunity to study and learn from the history of this war, starting with
    the Manchurian Incident of 1931, as we consider the future direction of our country.” In a country where strong statements are often veiled, his emphasis is not vague. He wants peace not war.

    I wish Prime Minister Abe will listen to the nuance of Emperor Akihito’s words.

  • Ron NJ

    Ah, that makes torturing and murdering people okay then. Thanks for clearing that up!

  • BrainOverBullet

    Abe, is very big problem for future Japan.

  • http://batman-news.com labjmh

    Thank God that there is a country called Germany on this planet! If the Japanese knew what that country had done in the past 70 years regarding the “Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung” (dealing with the past crimes), they would find that there is a light year between the Germas and them. BTW: Akihito’s adress in composed of a few sentences, and the topic regarding the past has merely one. Richard v. Weizsaecker, the former president of Germeny made a speech on May 5th 1985 which lasted a half hour and accusedhis compatriots of having willingly done nothing or even helped Nazis during and before the WWII, although he is also a symbolic figure in the German politcs!

  • shima

    Too bad the Japanese media is more focused on the “kawaii” princess.

  • Rob D

    The USSR never did while Germany did. You could see the different way they treated prisoners. Japan and Russia had a horrendous record. M

  • hasanhh

    As commented below, Tenno’s complete thoughts should be published. Not one or two media selected items.

  • Han Wang

    I am a Chinese Australian and I am a very reasonable person. My family was not much affected by the war so I don’t carry strong “personal hatred”. And I like Japan because of its great culture. One thing bothers me is that, the emperor only expressed regrets on “Those who died on the battlefields, those who died in the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those who died in the air raids on Tokyo and other cities”, but did not mention anything about the civilians in the Asian countries who were killed during the invasion. In another words, this makes me feel that he believes war is bad news only because it brought disasters to Japan and Japanese people. Essentially Japan initiated the war, I hope one day I could hear some apologies, not only “regrets”, from the emperor or the prime minister.

  • Alfredo

    One lesson would be to get rid of the idiotic Emperor. That’s the reason why there was WWII, resulting in the murder of millions across China, Korea, SE Asia and Americans.