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Such hard feelings were also evident in China, where about 300 people gathered in the eastern city of Nanjing, to remember the victims of the 1937 “Nanjing Massacre,” known in the West as the “Rape of Nanking,” in which Japanese soldiers killed tens of thousands of civilians.
In Australia, World War II veterans and representatives from New Zealand, the United States and Asian countries were among more than 300 people gathered in downtown Sydney to mark the anniversary.
The group placed wreaths at the foot of the Cenotaph war memorial to mark Japan’s surrender and observed a minute of silence.
More than 27,000 Australians were killed or died as prisoners of war during World War II.
New South Wales Returned and Services League President Don Rowe said Australians at home and overseas were fighting for victory and peace.
“And when peace came some 65 years ago today, it was also a sad time for many, many families whose loved ones never returned,” Mr. Rowe said. “So today, ladies and gentlemen, we remember that victory, but we also remember those who laid down their lives.”
Mr. Kan and his Cabinet broke from the past by staying away from Yasukuni Shrine, while members of the opposition continued with their visits, including Liberal Democratic leader Sadakazu Tanigaki and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The national Mainichi newspaper expressed hopes for a world without nuclear weapons, highlighted by Mr. Obama’s promise to work toward nuclear disarmament.
“We must never repeat the tragedy of war, and we must continue to build peace. This anniversary should be a time for each of us to reflect,” it said in an editorial Sunday.
Memorials were held earlier this month in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities devastated by U.S. nuclear attacks at the end of World War II.
U.S. Ambassador John Roos became the first official U.S. representative to attend the Hiroshima commemoration this year. Hopes are high Mr. Obama also will go to Hiroshima during his trip to Japan set for later this year.
At Sunday’s ceremony, Emperor Akihito led a moment of silence at noon, bowing before a stage filled with yellow and white chrysanthemums.
It was the his father, Hirohito’s radio broadcast 65 years ago that announced the end of World War II — the first time the Japanese public had ever heard the voice of the emperor, who was revered as a living god.
“I feel once again a deep sadness for those many who lost their precious lives and for their families,” Emperor Akihito said. “I pray for the continued prosperity of our nation and for world peace.”
Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, Kristen Gelineau in Sydney and Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.
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