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Japan Marks Surrender Anniversary

August 15, 2002

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TOKYO (AP) _ Thousands of Japanese, from war veterans to lawmakers, gathered in the nation’s capital Thursday to mark the 57th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II with bundles of flowers and silent prayers for the dead.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Emperor Akihito were among those invited to the traditionally staid ceremony held annually at a cavernous martial arts hall outside the stone-lined moats of the Imperial Palace.

The anniversary remains an emotional day for many older Japanese who lived through the surrender and still recall the unprecedented Aug. 15, 1945 radio address by Emperor Hirohito _ Akihito’s father _ announcing Japan would ``bear the unbearable″ and give up.

The decision came after the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The surrender anniversary is often a flash point for protests in Japan, as thousands throng Tokyo’s Yasukuni war shrine to worship nearly 2.5 million soldiers, including executed war criminals, who have been enshrined there as deities since the 1800s.

For many of Japan’s Asian neighbors, including China and South Korea, official shrine visits by Japanese lawmakers are a sign that Japan glorifies its militarist past and refuses to atone for wartime atrocities.

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