Queen ready for PoW's protest

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In brief

THE Queen recognises the depth of anti-Japanese feeling among some former prisoners of war and would not be embarrassed by protests during Emperor Akihito's state visit, Buckingham Palace said yesterday.

With the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen supports reconciliation with modern Japan and is very much looking forward to the emperor's arrival next week, a palace spokesman said.

The Foreign Office said that war veterans were free to make their views known but hoped any demonstration would be "dignified". Although the emperor would not be making a formal apology for suffering inflicted by the Japanese during the Second World War, both he and the Queen could refer to the war in speeches at Tuesday's palace state banquet, a Foreign Office spokesman said.

Elderly former PoWs and former civilian internees of the war with the Japan say they will turn their backs on the emperor and whistle the wartime anthem "Colonel Bogey". They plan their protest on The Mall as the emperor and the Queen pass by in a horse-drawn carriage en route to the palace from the official welcoming ceremony at Horse Guards in Central London.

The Foreign Office pointed out that the emperor is precluded by his non-political position in Japan from making any apology for the past. "We recognise the strong feelings and believe we must not and cannot forget the feelings of these people," said the Foreign Office spokesman at a joint Whitehall briefing with the Palace.

"We are very conscious that our good relationship with Japan could not exist without the extraordinary sacrifices which were made during the war by PoWs and also by civilian internees," he said.

Last January, the Japanese Prime Minister made a strong formal apology for the wartime suffering.