The remarks were made in Naruhito’s first appearance at an annual ceremony in Tokyo to mourn the lives lost during the war.
Emperor Naruhito, who ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in May, also said that he hoped the ravages of war would never be repeated.
“Looking back on the long period of postwar peace, 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,” said Naruhito, whose ascension saw Japan’s new “Reiwa” era ushered in.
The expression “deep remorse” used by the emperor on Thursday was the same as that used by his 85-year-old father, former Emperor Akihito, in ceremonies to mark the war in recent years.
Akihito, who abdicated the throne in late April, had used the words “deep remorse” in every address since the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in 2015.
However, 59-year-old Emperor Naruhito, unlike his father, has never experienced war personally, as he was born after the end of WWII.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his address at the ceremony held at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda district, vowed not to repeat the tragedy of war, stating that Japan “deeply recalls the lessons of history.”
In a departure from years past since Abe assumed office in 2012, the Japanese leader opted not to specifically mention Japan’s brutal past aggressions against its Asian neighbors during the war.
“Over 3 million of our countrymen’s lives were lost during the war. We will never forget that the peace and prosperity we are enjoying now are built on the ultimate sacrifices of the war dead,” Abe said in his address.
Abe also sent a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni shrine for war dead on Thursday. Ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Tomomi Inada, a former defense minister and now special aide to Abe, made the monetary offering, called a “tamagushi-ryo,” on the premier’s behalf, domestic media said.
A moment of silence was observed at the Nippon Budokan at noon for the lives lost in the war, including the hundreds of thousands of civilians, as well as those who perished in the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.