Still stinging with anger and sorrow, many Asians Sunday marked the 60th anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender by honouring their dead, burning Rising Sun flags and demanding compensation amid rekindled tensions over Japanese abuses, the Associated Press reported.
Hu: China marks war to promote peace
Chinese President Hu Jintao said Sunday the Chinese people are commemorating the victory of the resistance war against Japanese aggression to keep history in mind, cherish peace and create a better future, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
"We will seize the opportunity to concentrate on construction and development," Hu said during his visit to a large-scale commemorative exhibition held near the Lugou Bridge (also known as the Marco Polo Bridge).
"We will always steadfastly pursue the peaceful development road and join with all nations in the world to collectively advance the lofty causes of peace and development of humankind," said Hu.
The exhibition, which is about the 60th anniversary of the victory of China's resistance war against Japanese aggression and the world war against fascists, consists of pictures, relics, reconstructed scenes and other articles to reflect the war period.
Hu presented a basket of flowers to a large scale sculpture of a mass of people entitled the Bronze and Iron Walls, which portrays the Chinese civilians and army joining hands to fight Japanese aggressors.
At the close of the visit, Hu said holding the exhibition at the 60th anniversary of the victory of China's resistance war against Japanese aggression is of great significance.
"The exhibition faithfully reflects the glorious path of the Chinese people's heroic fight against Japanese aggressors," said Hu. "They are vivid teaching materials for education in patriotismamong the people, especially the young people."
Wounds unhealed after six decades
The occasion inspired a rare joint commemoration by North Korea and South Korea, and spurred protesters in Hong Kong to burn Japan's flag and march on Tokyo's consulate chanting "Down with Japanese Imperialism!"
In the Philippines, elderly women once forced to act as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers renewed demands for compensation and apologies. Former Australian prisoners of war returned to the Thai jungles where they laboured under brutal conditions to build the notorious Death Railway, according to AP.
The outpouring of emotion revealed the unhealed wounds six decades after Japan's Emperor Hirohito conceded defeat in a radio broadcast, just days after the United States incinerated the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs, the Associated Press reported.
The anniversary comes as Japan's relations with its neighbors are their most frayed in decades.
Regional strains stem partly from anxiety over North Korea's nuclear arms program and a dispute between Japan and China over resources in the East China Sea. But there are also bitter complaints that Japan has not properly atoned for brutally occupying much of the region in the 1930s and '40s.
"I can accept the fact that the young generation of Japanese is not to blame. It was their fathers and grandfathers. But until they own up, they'll always be a pariah nation," said 84-year-old Baden Jones, an Australian.
He was among former POWs who honored fallen comrades at a ceremony in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, where many of the 12,000 prisoners who died building Japan's jungle railway were buried.
Bitterness runs deep in China. Riots erupted earlier this year over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni war shrine - which deifies Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals - and over Tokyo's approval of history textbooks that critics say gloss over wartime atrocities.
The sense of victims' solidarity extended across the Cold War's last frontier as a delegation of about 200 North Koreans arrived in Seoul, South Korea, to pay a first-ever visit to a cemetery where Korean War dead are buried.
Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910. While the war's end brought liberation, it also led to the peninsula's division and a stalemated war between North and South in 1950-53.
"We've proposed the visit to remember the many who died for Korea's liberation," the head of the North Korean delegation, Kim Chi Nam, told South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young.
In the Philippines, Lili-Pilipina, a group of women who say they were forced into prostitution by the Japanese Imperial Army, demanded again that Tokyo compensate them. While some have accepted payments from the privately run Asian Women's Fund, the women want official compensation and acknowledgment of their suffering from the Japanese government.
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