Asian nations mark 60th Japan surrender

Asians marked the 60th anniversary of Japan's surrender in the Second World War by honouring their dead, burning Rising Sun flags and demanding compensation amid rekindled tensions over Japanese abuses. The peoples still can’t forget and even forgive the horrors of war.

The occasion inspired a rare joint commemoration by North Korea and South Korea, and spurred protesters in Hong Kong to burn Japan's flag and march on Tokyo's consulate chanting "Down with Japanese imperialism!"

In the Philippines, elderly women once forced to act as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers renewed demands for compensation and apologies. Former Australian prisoners of war returned to the Thai jungles where they laboured under brutal conditions to build the notorious Death Railway.

China exhorted its citizens to remember Tokyo's surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, with "a fresh wave of patriotism."

In Australia, thousands gathered at ceremonies around the country to mark the end of the war, with Prime Minister John Howard joined by Japan's ambassador to Australia Hideaki Ueda in laying a wreath at the national war memorial.

But that didn't mean the ghosts of the past had been laid to rest Down Under.

Max Williams, who fought in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, speculated that it would be easier for future generations to accept a Japanese presence at commemoration services.

"Politically, we've got to have them here. But that's as far as I'd like to say," Williams told Reuters.

More than 40,000 Australians were killed and 30,000 taken prisoner by the Japanese, including 20,000 detained in 1942 following the fall of Singapore to Japanese forces.

The outpouring of emotion laid bare unhealed wounds six decades after Japan's Emperor Hirohito conceded defeat in a radio broadcast, just days after the United States incinerated the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs.

The anniversary comes as Japan's relations with its neighbours are at their most frayed condition in decades.

Regional strains stem partly from anxiety over North Korea's nuclear arms program and a dispute between Japan and China over resources in a contested area of the East China Sea. But there are also bitter complaints that Japan has not properly atoned for brutally occupying much of the region in the 1930s and '40s.

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