Khaldon Azhari and Yuka Osawa
TOKYO: The Japanese government held the annual ceremony to mourn those who died in World War II, at the Nippon Budokan on August 15 as this year marks the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the war.
Around 600 people attended the event, including Japan’s emperor and empress, as well as the prime minister and relatives of the dead.
Usually, more than 6,000 people attend but it was scaled down because of coronavirus concerns. Many of the relatives that regularly attend are within the elderly age group, increasing the risk of more severe symptoms if infected.
As a result, the government saw a need to reduce the total number of participants to about 400, along with about 200 officials, guests and media members.
The Japanese emperor and empress attended the ceremony for the second time since their enthronement. Emperor Naruhito said, “Looking back on the long period of postwar peace, reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep grief and remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated.”
The emperor also mentioned the current COVID-19 situation, emphasizing prayers for peace and overcoming these difficulties.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke at the event, showing his respect and gratitude to the war victims and vowing to never forget the sacrifices of those who lost their lives in the war.
The oldest among the participating relatives was a 93-year-old man whose younger brother died from leukemia in Tianjin.
The youngest was a 12-year-old girl whose great-grandfather was killed in the Battle of Solomon Island. She presented a flower offering onstage to the dead as the representative of the young generation.
As part of COVID-19 measures, attendees were asked to wear white masks in the ceremony, and the national anthem was played only by the orchestra without being sung by the attendees.
Plastic bottles were not allowed into the venue due to strict security reasons, but anti-heat strokes measures were repeatedly announced.