Emperor shows determination to pass down memories of war

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Emperor and Empress attend a national memorial service at the Nippon Budokan hall in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday.

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe Emperor showed his determination to pass down the memories of World War II at the memorial service for the war dead held on Thursday, occasionally using his own words in his speech but mainly following his father’s expressions.

It was the first memorial service since the enthronement of the Emperor, who attended together with the Empress.

In his speech, which attracted much attention, he altered some wording from the Emperor Emeritus’ past remarks to fit his own thoughts as someone who was born after the end of the war.

The Emperor, dressed in a morning suit, walked with the Empress to a column bearing an inscription meaning, “The spirits of the war dead of the whole nation.”

Afterward, he delivered his words clearly and in a courteous manner.

The Emperor spent much time choosing his words, according to one of his close aides. “He came up with his own words better suited to the postwar generation, which is different from the generation of the Emperor Emeritus who lived during the war,” the aide said.

The Emperor Emeritus used the expression “with deep remorse” every year after first using it in 2015 on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the war’s end.

The Emperor, for his part, used the phrase “on the basis of deep remorse.” It is said to be an expression of his desire to take over the thoughts of his parents’ generation — who have repeatedly expressed “deep remorse” over the war — and to pass it on to the next generation.

Similarly, the expression “when I look back on the sufferings and tribulations of the past,” was changed to “when I look back on the arduous steps taken by the people.” The Emperor used his own words as a member of the generation who did not directly experience the hardships of the time.

The Emperor has heard about the war from Emperor Showa and the Emperor Emeritus on various occasions since his childhood.

“The Emperor has studied the history of war, with the Emperor Emeritus as his best teacher. The wish for peace is very deeply ingrained in the Emperor,” a senior official of the Imperial Household Agency said.

“It is significant that the Emperor, the symbol of the nation, confirmed together with the people through his words that memories of the war should never fade away,” Shingo Haketa, a former grand steward of the agency, said.


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