Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stayed away from a Tokyo shrine that honours convicted war criminals among the war dead apparently not to spark controversy from neighbouring countries as Japan marked the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II.
Abe on Monday sent a pair of religious ornaments to the Yasukuni Shrine, apparently as Tokyo tries to arrange a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in China next month.
At a state memorial ceremony later Monday, Abe reiterated his pledge not to allow the tragedy of war to be repeated, but he neither mentioned Japan's wartime actions in Asia nor apologised to its victims. In his last four speeches to mark the end-of-war anniversary, Abe has not acknowledged Japan's war atrocities or expressed his regrets over them.
That contrasted with a statement from Emperor Akihito.
"As I reflect the past and bear in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated," Akihito, 82, said after observing a moment of silence with other participants. It was his first public appearance outside the palace since he indicated his abdication wish in a video message last week.
Abe visited the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery for unidentified soldiers on his way to the memorial ceremony at the nearby Budokan hall.