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Groups Mark Pearl Harbor Attack, No Government Observance With AM-Pearl Harbor, Bjt

December 7, 1991

TOKYO (AP) _ A government official on Sunday voiced Japan’s remorse for the attack on Pearl Harbor, but for most Japanese, the 50th anniversary of the onslaught was marked by television coverage of U.S. events.

Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe issued a two-paragraph statement early Sunday, a day after formal ceremonies in Hawaii commemorating the anniversary.

Japan, he said, ″should face squarely the historical fact that the Pacific War, which inflicted unbearable suffering and sorrow on many people ... was started 50 years ago today with Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

″Japan is deeply remorseful over these past actions, and I wish again to express my sincerest condolences to all those people of the countries concerned and Japan who sacrificed their lives in the course of the war.

″Japan renews its resolve never to repeat such an unfortunate history ... ,″ he said.

Watanabe and other high-level officials the past week have been expressing remorse for the suffering caused by Japan, but the government held no official events to commemorate the attack that brought the United States into the Pacific War.

On Friday, a Parliamentary resolution of remorse for Japan’s World War II militarism was scrapped by conservatives who said apologies weren’t needed.

The bitter debate over its passage - as well as over a separate resolution to send Japanese peacekeeping troops abroad - has illustrated the pain and controversy lingering in Japan from the war.

In Hawaii, President Bush addressed survivors from the surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s base at Pearl Harbor, and apologized for the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans that followed.

But he stuck to his earlier remarks that no apologies were needed for either Pearl Harbor or the U.S. atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In Nagasaki, Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima spoke in the same vein.

He called Pearl Harbor a ″bad thing,″ and said the atomic bombings broke international laws barring indiscriminate killings. But he added: ″Now both Japan and the United States should stop criticizing each other and join hands to think about peace.″

Across Japan, the anniversary’s remembrance in the United States was the top story on the evening news programs. Three of the four top commercial networks were to air the Hawaii ceremonies live.

Yet many Japanese seemed unaware of the anniversary events.

″Those who attack others can easily forget what they did, while those who were attacked seem never to forget,″ said one Tokyo resident, Yoko Wakami, who paused before she remembered the anniversary. ″I guess it’s important to remember Pearl Harbor, but Japanese probably don’t want to.″

In Tokyo, about 1,000 people gathered to discuss the war, concluding that Japan’s actions ″were inevitable for the self-defense of all of Asia″ against Western domination, the Japan Broadcasting Corp. reported.

But most of the other dozens of demonstrations Saturday opposed the Pearl Harbor attack and the peacekeeping forces legislation, which many fear as a first step toward rewewed militarism.

The bill, which is still under debate, would send troops overseas for the first time since World War II as part of U.N. peacekeeping forces. It has been criticized by Asian nations, many of whom suffered at Japanese hands during the war.

Scores of mothers paraded in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, protesting the bill and chanting that they would never send their children to war.

About 300 historians, war veterans and others called for a government apology to the victims of the war and warned of rising militarism.

″I hear the footsteps of a military draft system coming very soon,″ said Toshihiko Isobe, a member of the Japanese Veterans for Peace.

On Friday, a separate resolution, expressing remorse, was killed by conservatives within the governing Liberal Democratic Party who argued that Japan has already demonstrated its remorse for the war.

However, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and other top government officials expressed strong personal regret over Japan’s wartime actions.

Update hourly