Japan's new emperor Naruhito echoes father, expresses deep remorse over World War II

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attend a memorial service ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, in Tokyo, on Aug 15, 2019.
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attend a memorial service ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, in Tokyo, on Aug 15, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's new emperor, Naruhito, expressed deep remorse over the country's wartime past and prayed for global peace on Thursday (Aug 15), echoing his father's words in remarks at an annual ceremony marking Tokyo's surrender in World War II.

Emperor Naruhito, 59, became Japan's first monarch born after the war when he inherited the throne in May. His father, Akihito, stepped down in the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in two centuries.

"Looking back on the long period of post-war peace, reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated," Emperor Naruhito said.

"Together with all of our people, I pay my heartfelt tribute to all those who lost their lives in the war... and pray for world peace and the further development of our country," he said, echoing his father's message a year ago.

Emperor Naruhito is a grandson of Hirohito, in whose name Japanese troops fought WWII.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni shrine for war dead on Thursday. Past visits by Japanese leaders to Yasukuni have outraged South Korea and China because the shrine honours 14 Japanese wartime leaders convicted as war criminals. 

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Tomomi Inada, a former defence minister and now special aide to Mr Abe, made the monetary offering, called a “tamagushi-ryo”, on the premier’s behalf, domestic media said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment, saying it was a private matter. 

“The peace and prosperity of our country is due to those heroes who gave their lives for their homeland and I express my gratitude and respect,” Ms Inada quoted Mr Abe as saying, according to domestic media.