Address by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
(at the 56th Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead)
August 15, 2001
On the occasion of the annual Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead in the presence of Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress of Japan, I deliver this address here today on behalf of the Government.
As we embark upon the 21st century, feelings of sorrow pervade my heart even now when I reflect once more on past days filled with the suffering of World War II.
In the fierce fighting more than three million Japanese lost their lives on the battlefield, succumbed to the ravages of war, or passed away in some distant foreign land after the war, reminiscent of their homeland and anxious about their families. My heart goes out to those who lost their lives and I offer my heartfelt prayers for the repose of their souls. Recalling that the peace and prosperity that we currently enjoy are founded on the ultimate sacrifices made by those who laid down their lives for their country in spite of themselves, I offer my genuine respect and appreciation to them.
During the war, Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. On behalf of the people of Japan, I would like to express my feelings of profound remorse and offer sincere mourning to the victims.
After the war, upholding peace as its national policy, Japan has risen from amongst the ruins, overcome numerous difficulties and achieved startling development through the unremitting efforts of its people. Indeed, in this time of peace and abundance we bear the responsibility to reflect humbly on the past, to pass on to the next generation the horror of war and how numerous precious sacrifices were made, to maintain and develop friendly relations with our neighboring countries in order to ensure that we are not isolated from the international community, and to establish lasting world peace. It is my conviction that exercising this responsibility will serve as atonement for the past and a way of responding to the sacrifices made by the victims.
On the occasion of the ceremony in the first year of the 21st century, once again I inscribe the many lessons of the war deeply on my heart and vow anew to make my utmost efforts toward establishing lasting world peace and realizing a society full of hope in which people are able to live fulfilling lives.
In concluding my address, I recall the still relentless, profound suffering and sorrow of the families of the war dead and offer my heartfelt prayers for their peace of mind.
Prime Minister of Japan