Japan today commemorated the 75th anniversary of its surrender in World War II, with Emperor Naruhito expressing his "deep remorse" over the country's wartime actions at an annual mourning ceremony in Tokyo.
The Emperor, Empress Masako, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a limited number of people attended the ceremony which was scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.
Naruhito, the country's first emperor born after the war, expressed "deep remorse" as he did last year, in a rare public appearance amid the pandemic.
"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 again be repeated," Emperor Naruhito said in his address at the annual memorial service.
Vowing not to repeat the tragedy of the war, Abe said: "We will never forget that the peace and prosperity we are enjoying today are built on the ultimate sacrifices of the war dead."
The ceremony was held in Nippon Budokan, with around 540 people in attendance, less than 10 per cent of the number in 2019 and the lowest on record since the government started holding the event in 1963, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
Members of Abe's Cabinet on Saturday visited the Yasukuni shrine, a symbol of Japan's past militarism, while Abe himself sent a ritual offering.
Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi was the first Cabinet member since 2016 to visit the shrine on the August 15 anniversary.
His visit was followed by three other Cabinet members.
Yasukuni Shrine honours 14 Class-A convicted war criminals among 2.5 million Japanese war dead from World War II..