But Japan is still struggling for words

50 years ago - the kiss that sealed the peace
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The Independent Online
It was the kiss seen around the world ... an American sailor grabbed a nurse in Times Square, New York, on VJ Day with a passion inspired by peace.

The moment - captured by the photographer Alfred Eisenstadt and published in Life magazine - is now synonymous with the end of the Second World War.

Today, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VJ Day, the Royal British Legion will launch 250,000 balloons on Southsea Common in Portsmouth, each one representing a British life lost in the war.

In Japan today, an audience of several thousand, including Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, will learn the answer to a compelling question: exactly how sorry is the Japanese Prime Minster, Tomiichi Murayama, about his nation's conduct during the war?

Early this morning he was due to step on to the podium at a service at the Budokan, or Martial Arts Hall, near Tokyo's Imperial Palace, to pay respects to Japan's war dead and offer pledges of peace.

He was expected to express remorse: but a leaked draft of the statement he was due to read suggested his words may fall short of the unequivocal apology sought by victims of Japan's wartime brutality, including thousands of British ex-PoWs.

The draft of the statement reads: "For a period in the past, our country adopted wrong policies and through aggression and colonial rule, caused severe pain and damage to many nations, especially in Asia.

"I offer my deepest condolences to the victims of this history, both at home and abroad."

The Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, yesterday led new demands that Mr Murayama fully apologise for Japan's militarist policies, pursued "at great cost and detriment" to its Asian neighbours.

"But I think I would also like to hear a commitment from him to tell this generation of Japanese people the full truth, the full history of what happened," he said. Otherwise, he added, "I don't think an apology means anything".

To forgive - or not, page 4