Tokyo (AP) - Japan commemorated the 75th anniversary of the country's surrender in World War II of the approximately 3.1 million fallen soldiers and civilian victims.

Emperor Naruhito, the country's first post-war monarch, spoke of “deep remorse” for World War II at a central commemoration ceremony in Tokyo on Saturday and expressed his hope that war will never repeat itself.

According to the media, four members of the government of the right-wing conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a pilgrimage to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, where the souls of those who died in wars for the empire are commemorated - including those of 14 executed war criminals. Abe himself refrained from visiting out of consideration for China and South Korea, but made an offering.

Abe himself had last visited the shrine in December 2013 and thus triggered sharp criticism. Since then, the right-wing conservative Prime Minister has left it with offerings. Visits by Japanese politicians and offerings to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo have in the past repeatedly triggered tensions with China and South Korea, against which Japan's aggressions in World War II were directed.

In his speech at the commemoration ceremony, which was drastically reduced due to the corona pandemic, Abe said: "We will never forget that the peace and prosperity we enjoy today is based on the ultimate sacrifice of the war dead". As in previous years, Abe did not address Japan's war of aggression. The right-wing conservative wants to reform the pacifist post-war constitution. He takes the view that the constitution does not correspond to that of an independent nation, since it was imposed on Japan in 1946 by the occupying power of the USA.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200815-99-176944 / 2