Japan marks World War II anniversary

2011-08-15 07:38

Tokyo – Japan observed the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II today as it struggles to cope with its worst nuclear crisis and recover from the natural disasters that struck the northeast in March.

Some 7 200 people, including Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and Prime Minister Naoto Kan attended the yearly ceremony in central Tokyo to remember 3.1 million soldiers and civilians who perished in the war.

The premier had said in March the country was facing the biggest crisis since the end of World War II as it was struggling to avert a nuclear disaster.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has leaked radiation since it was crippled by the quake and tsunami.

Three of its six nuclear reactor cores suffered meltdowns, the worst atomic accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

The March natural disaster killed nearly 15 700 while police continued to search more than 4 600 who are still missing.

The prime minister said Japan should use its experience in rebuilding after its defeat in World War II as a lesson that it could recover.

“Our nation lifted itself out of the ruins of the war and overcame many difficulties,” he said, “with this experience, the devastated areas, and our nation will recover strongly from the disaster.”

Today, tens of thousands of people were expected to visit Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo, a war memorial that enshrined the nation’s war dead including convicted war criminals.

Kan said he and his cabinet ministers would not visit the controversial shrine, which enrages the country’s erstwhile enemies, particularly Chinese and Koreans.

A group of 52 lawmakers visited the shrine today.

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