Japan's Emperor Akihito expressed his "deep regret" Wednesday for his country's actions during World War II.
The 84-year-old emperor revealed his remorse during a ceremony at Tokyo's Budokan Hall to mark the 73rd anniversary of Japan's surrender to Allied forces, following the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki just days before.
"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," Akihito said, accompanied by his wife, Empress Michiko. It was the final appearance at the annual ceremony for Akihito, who will abdicate the throne next year.
Emperor Akihito has spent much of his reign visiting many places in the Pacific region that were invaded by wartime Japanese forces and expressed his regret for their actions carried out in the name of his father, Hirohito.
The emperor's statements of remorse contrast with that of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has pushed to revise Japan's post-war pacifist constitution and strengthen the country's self-defense forces.
Abe also spoke at Wednesday's ceremony, pledging to never again repeat the devastation of war.
Abe stayed away from the controversial Yasukuni shrine that honors millions of Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals, sending a religious offering instead. His last visit to the shrine in 2013 angered China and South Korea, which considers the landmark a celebration of Japan's 20th century military aggression.