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2015年8月18日 (火)

戦没者追悼式 「深い反省」を世界の平和に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Emperor’s ‘feelings of deep remorse’ must be taken to heart for world peace
戦没者追悼式 「深い反省」を世界の平和に

We must not forget that Japan’s peace and prosperity after World War II have been built on the enormous sacrifices of the people who lost their lives in the war.

Events were held throughout the country on Aug. 15, the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, to honor the souls of the war dead, who number an estimated 3.1 million. In the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, the National Memorial Service for the War Dead was held that day under the sponsorship of the government and in the presence of the Emperor and the Empress.

In his address at the commemorative ceremony, the Emperor said, “Reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse over the last war, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated.”
“[I] pray for world peace and for the continuing development of our country,” he said.

The words “deep remorse” were newly incorporated into the Emperor’s address for this year’s national commemoration ceremony. This can be said to reflect the Emperor’s feelings toward the last war.

In his New Year’s address this January, the Emperor emphasized, “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.”

This can be taken as an expression of his Imperial Majesty’s desire to link the lessons of the war to Japan’s peace by reflecting upon the past.

The Emperor saw the war’s end at the age of 11 in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, where he was evacuated. He has been quoted as saying that when he returned to Tokyo, the capital had been reduced to “completely burnt-out ruins, which stand out especially clearly in my memory.”

As a member of the generation that experienced the war first-hand, the Emperor likely has special feelings for the bereaved families of the war dead.

Preserve historic shelter

In April this year, the Emperor and the Empress made an official visit to the island of Peleliu in the Republic of Palau, which was one of the fiercest battlefields in the war. The Imperial couple laid flowers at both the Japanese and U.S. memorials.

The way the Imperial couple are squarely and sincerely facing the scars left by the war this year, the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, has made strong impressions both at home and abroad.

The Imperial Household Agency recently made public the master record and audio of the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War that then Emperor Hirohito, posthumously called Emperor Showa, announced via radio broadcast to the public. They were made public at the Emperor and Empress’ suggestion that the advisability of replaying the recording of the rescript be considered, according to the agency.

Also made public were photos and video footage of an underground air-raid shelter in the Imperial Palace, which was referred to as “Obunko fuzoku shitsu” (Room attached to the Imperial shelter), where Emperor Showa made a “sacred” Imperial decision to bring the war to an end. Its current state, with crumbled floors and fallen wall coverings, conveys the passage of a great deal of time.

In accordance with Emperor Showa’s personal desire that the shelter be not maintained, the room has reportedly never been repaired. But considering that the shelter was an important historical setting, the government may be better advised to study the wisdom of preserving it.

Of the about 5,000 bereaved relatives who attended the national memorial ceremony this year, about 60 percent were children of the war dead. Many children of the war dead are now older than 80.

Spouses of the war dead accounted for no more than 15 of the attendees.

The generation that personally experienced the war is aging rapidly. Steps must be taken to ensure that the memories of the miseries of the war are handed down to the next generation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 16, 2015)


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