Asia Marks 60th Anniversary of Japan's WWII Surrender



Asia on Sunday is beginning to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the surrender of Japan, which brought a close to the Second World War. It was on August 14, 1945, that Japan communicated to the Allied powers that it would surrender. The official announcement from Tokyo came the following day.

It was the day after Tokyo sent its surrender notice to the Allies that its own people learned the news. On August 15, 1945, Japan's national radio network boosted the power of its transmitters for an unprecedented broadcast address of the "Voice of the Crane" - the emperor. Until that historic day, ordinary Japanese had never heard their emperor speak.

Speaking in archaic court language understood by few of his subjects, Emperor Hirohito told Japan that the tide of battle had not necessarily developed to the nation's advantage.

While most Japanese reacted with stunned silence, there was jubilation across Asia as countries quickly realized they were being liberated from a long period of colonialism and militarism.

Sixty years on, Japan still seems to have difficulty coming to grips with its defeat. The media focus here every August is on the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with little mention of Japan's aggression and the millions of Asians who died as a result of Japanese occupation.

Every year on August 15, some cabinet ministers visit Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, setting off protests by Asian governments, which regard the Shinto religious site as glorifying Japan's militarism.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has hinted he is unlikely to visit the shrine Monday, thus avoiding an untimely diplomatic firestorm during a domestic election campaign. But at least two of his cabinet ministers say they will go, including Environment Minister Yuriko Koike.

Ms. Koike says because the 60th anniversary is a significant one, she wants to visit the shrine to pray for the repose of the souls of those who sacrificed their lives for their country and to also pray for world peace.

On the Korean peninsula, Monday will be a day of celebration as both North and South Korea mark their 60th anniversary of independence. A delegation from Pyongyang arrived in Seoul on Sunday to join four days of commemorative events.

China is also remembering the anniversary in a triumphant mood. Beijing credits the Chinese Communist Party with helping defeat the Japanese. Chinese media report that a newly expanded war memorial will be opened Monday, including a 16,000 square-meter exhibition hall dedicated to China's eight-year-long war against Japanese aggression.

Although August 14 and 15th are celebrated as the end of the war, it was not until September 2, 1945, that Japan finally signed surrender documents and all its forces around Asia came under the command of local or Allied authorities.

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