Japan held yesterday a government-sponsored memorial service to mark the 61st anniversary of the end to World War II.
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi attended the service along with some 6,200 people in Tokyo's Nippon Budokan Hall.
I pay a heartfelt tribute to people who lost their lives in the battlefield and fell in the ravages of war, and pray for world peace and further development of our country, the emperor said at the service, which is held annually to pay tribute to the Japanese war dead.
Koizumi, who visited the war criminals-honoring Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo early yesterday morning despite criticism from home and abroad, admitted at the service that his country had caused considerable damage and pain to people in many countries, in particular Asian countries.
We should not forget that friendly ties with other countries and territories have been fundamental to Japan's stability in the post-war era, he said.
August 16, 2006