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Japan Emperor: War Dead Sacrificed Lives for Japan of Today

Japan's Emperor Akihito has issued a new year's message, reflecting on the people who died in World War II and stressing the importance of their sacrifice.

The emperor said in a written message that 3,100,000 Japanese people died in the war, and that many foreigners were also victims.

The emperor says the Japan of today was built on the sacrifice of those people.

The statement follows a year in which China and South Korea repeatedly criticized Japan for failing to atone for its militaristic past.

The criticism was heightened by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the Japanese war dead including convicted war criminals.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.

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