Japan marks 63rd anniversary of end of World War II

August 15th, 2008 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Aug 15 (DPA) Nearly 5,000 people are expected to gather at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan arena Friday to commemorate the country’s 3.1 million war dead and the end of World War II. Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko were to attend the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Farm Minister Seiichi Ota, Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka, and former prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to Japan’s war dead.

The shrine visits by Japanese leaders on Aug 15, the day Japan surrendered in 1945, have drawn protests from other Asian nations, especially China and South Korea, which experienced occupation and wartime atrocities by Japan.

While Koizumi was in office, his repeated visits to the shrine strained ties with neighbouring nations.

Abe refrained from visiting the shrine on the anniversary while he was premier to try to mend ties with China and South Korea.

Fukuda and most of his cabinet members said they planned not to go.

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