Private ceremony at Kranji Memorial to mark 75th anniversary of Japan's WWII defeat

The ceremony remembered the Singapore veterans and Allied soldiers who fought against the Japanese in South-east Asia. PHOTOS: BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION SINGAPORE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Japan. Noon, 75 years ago. Emperor Hirohito, in a historical speech broadcast on radio, told his people to stop fighting, ending nearly six years of global war.

In what is now known as the first time a Japanese ruler has spoken directly to his people, the defeated ruler explained the surrender in a four-minute address: "It is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is not sufferable."

To commemorate the endurance and suffering of the other side, a private ceremony was held on Saturday (Aug 15) at Kranji War Cemetery.

It remembered the Singapore veterans and Allied soldiers who fought against the Japanese in South-east Asia, for whom the emperor's speech marked a tentative end, not the beginning, of pain.

"Lest we forget," began a Facebook post by the British High Commission in Singapore on Saturday.

"We owe to them a debt of gratitude," it added, referring to "the men and women who fought for our freedom in WWII".

More than 24,000 Allied soldiers died fighting in the region, with no known grave. Across the world, 75 million people, including 40 million civilians, perished in the most destructive war the world has ever experienced.

At the ceremony, attended by British High Commissioner to Singapore Kara Owen, defence advisers from Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Britain, as well as veterans from Singapore, a minute of silence was observed.

Wreaths were also laid.

On Sept 2, 1945, Japan would finally sign the surrender documents at Tokyo Bay on board American battleship USS Missouri, ending World War II.

Ten days later, the Japanese surrender ceremony in Singapore was held. It was then, at the Municipal Building of Singapore now known as City Hall, that the occupation of South-east Asia was brought to an end.

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