TOKYO : Spirit of Contrition

Amid a rare flowering of contrition for its aggression in World War II, Japan commemorates the end of the war Thursday, the 46th anniversary of the late Emperor Hirohito's declaration of surrender, in ceremonies that will be led by his son, Emperor Akihito.

Akihito was expected to merely repeat what has become a standard expression of pained memory of the war dead. But already this year, the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, commemorative ceremonies of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki both produced references to Japan's aggression--the first-ever such acknowledgment at Hiroshima.

And on TV, all major networks are airing war-related specials focusing on Japan's role as the aggressor, rather than the usual emphasis on damage and suffering that Japanese civilians endured during the war.

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