Japan's emperor marks 20th anniversary on throne
Japan's Emperor Akihito, marking the 20th anniversary of his coronation Thursday, says he is concerned young people are forgetting their history, AP reported.
Akihito said Japan must not forget its past - and especially the turbulent years his father, the late Emperor Hirohito, was on the throne - if it is to learn from its mistakes.
"What worries me most is that the history of the past will gradually be forgotten," the 75-year-old monarch said at a brief news conference before Thursday's anniversary. He said it was regrettable Hirohito will be remembered by history for World War II and Japan's military advances into Asia prior to its defeat in 1945.
"The reign of my father began at a very difficult time," he said, noting that Japan invaded Manchuria six years after Hirohito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne. "There are many lessons that we can learn from the 60-some years of his reign."
"He viscerally knew the importance of peace," Akihito said.
Japan has often been criticized by its neighbors - who bore the brunt of Japanese colonialism - for whitewashing the country's role in World War II in its school textbooks. Although Akihito has visited China, he has yet to travel to South Korea, largely because of lingering animosities over the war.
Until Japan's surrender, Hirohito was officially considered a living god and loyalty to the throne was used to rally the nation behind the war, though historians generally agree that it was more often the generals, admirals and politicians who made the major decisions that set the country's disastrous course.
Over the past 20 years, Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko, have grown quietly into their roles as ceremonial symbols of the nation, a definition of the Japanese monarchs imposed by U.S. military leaders during the Japanese occupation.
Akihito's primary role is that of a figurehead. He presides over rituals at the palace shrines, gives out awards, meets foreign dignitaries and swears in new Cabinets.
His public comments are famously circumspect, avoiding subjects that might have political implications, and off-the-cuff remarks are almost unheard of. The questions he answered at the pre-anniversary news conference were submitted to the palace well in advance, and he had written answers prepared.
Akihito was coronated nearly a year after Hirohito died on Jan. 7, 1989 because the country was officially in mourning.