WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 2, 2015) — The White House Office of the Press Secretary on Wednesday released a statement from President Barack Obama to mark the 70th anniversary commemorating the end of World War II in the Pacific.
Today we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the formal end of World War II in the Pacific, a conflict that tragically claimed millions of lives across Asia and Oceania and stretched several months beyond the war’s conclusion in the
European theater. We salute the American servicemen and women of the Greatest Generation who answered the call of duty in the Pacific, as well as the allied forces with whom they served. We remember those who endured unimaginable suffering as prisoners of war, and we honor the ultimate sacrifice of more than 100,000 U.S. service members who laid down their lives in the Pacific theater to defend our nation and advance the cause of freedom. To them, and to the 16 million Americans who served in the Second World War — those who are no longer with us and our proud veterans today — our debt of gratitude can never be repaid. We live in freedom because of their brave service.
The end of the war marked the beginning of a new era in America’s relationship with Japan. As Prime Minister Abe and I noted during his visit in April, the relationship between our two countries over the last 70 years stands as a model of the power of reconciliation: former adversaries who have become steadfast allies and who work together to advance common interests and universal values in Asia and globally. Seventy years ago this partnership was unimaginable. Today it is a fitting reflection of our shared interests, capabilities, and values, and I am confident that it will continue to deepen in the decades to come.
U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry issued a separate statement.
I join President Obama and the American people in reflecting on today’s 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific theater.
As we recall the war’s devastating toll and mourn those lost on all sides, we also remember the gallantry of our American men and women in uniform who, alongside their allied partners, courageously served in combat across the Pacific Ocean and Asian continent. We are humbled by their heroism, and we owe them our unending gratitude. We also honor and respect the sacrifices made by the citizens of so many nations during the war.
Last year I visited two sites of great significance to today’s anniversary. The first was the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, where I had an opportunity to scatter rose petals into the water and recall the moment that brought the United States into the Pacific theater. The second was the American Guadalcanal Memorial in the Solomon Islands, where we remembered the storied deeds of the U.S. Marines’ First Division. Both locations stand to this day as silent witnesses to the bravery that imbued the conflict.
Over the past seven decades, the United States has been a proud partner in the Asia-Pacific region’s astonishing rise from the devastation of war. The “Asian miracle” has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and created an engine for global economic growth. Meanwhile, the expansion of democracy has enabled people to exercise fundamental freedoms and the right to shape their political destinies.
Today we also reflect on the remarkable transformation of our relationship with Japan, from wartime adversaries to stalwart friends and allies. Our enduring partnership testifies to the power of reconciliation and draws strength from a shared commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
The United States will continue to deepen its active engagement in the region as a resident Pacific nation, working with allies and partners to strengthen the institutions, networks, rules, and good practices that promote stability and prosperity.
The memory of World War II will continue to inspire us as we seek to build for future generations a lasting architecture of peace.”
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued his statement commemorating the end of the previously on Aug. 14, 2015.
On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, we must calmly reflect upon the road to war, the path we have taken since it ended, and the era of the 20th century. We must learn from the lessons of history the wisdom for our future.
More than one hundred years ago, vast colonies possessed mainly by the Western powers stretched out across the world. With their overwhelming supremacy in technology, waves of colonial rule surged toward Asia in the 19th century. There is no doubt that the resultant sense of crisis drove Japan forward to achieve modernization. Japan built a constitutional government earlier than any other nation in Asia. The country preserved its independence throughout. The Japan-Russia War gave encouragement to many people under colonial rule from Asia to Africa.
After World War I, which embroiled the world, the movement for self-determination gained momentum and put brakes on colonization that had been underway. It was a horrible war that claimed as many as ten million lives. With a strong desire for peace stirred in them, people founded the League of Nations and brought forth the General Treaty for Renunciation of War. There emerged in the international community a new tide of outlawing war itself.
At the beginning, Japan, too, kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan’s economy suffered a major blow. In such circumstances, Japan’s sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.
With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.
And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated.
On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.
More than three million of our compatriots lost their lives during the war: on the battlefields worrying about the future of their homeland and wishing for the happiness of their families; in remote foreign countries after the war, in extreme cold or heat, suffering from starvation and disease. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the air raids on Tokyo and other cities, and the ground battles in Okinawa, among others, took a heavy toll among ordinary citizens without mercy.
Also in countries that fought against Japan, countless lives were lost among young people with promising futures. In China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and elsewhere that became the battlefields, numerous innocent citizens suffered and fell victim to battles as well as hardships such as severe deprivation of food. We must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honor and dignity were severely injured.
Upon the innocent people did our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering. History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone. Each and every one of them had his or her life, dream, and beloved family. When I squarely contemplate this obvious fact, even now, I find myself speechless and my heart is rent with the utmost grief.
The peace we enjoy today exists only upon such precious sacrifices. And therein lies the origin of postwar Japan.
We must never again repeat the devastation of war.
Incident, aggression, war — we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.
With deep repentance for the war, Japan made that pledge. Upon it, we have created a free and democratic country, abided by the rule of law, and consistently upheld that pledge never to wage a war again. While taking silent pride in the path we have walked as a peace-loving nation for as long as seventy years, we remain determined never to deviate from this steadfast course.
Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war. In order to manifest such feelings through concrete actions, we have engraved in our hearts the histories of suffering of the people in Asia as our neighbors: those in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and China, among others; and we have consistently devoted ourselves to the peace and prosperity of the region since the end of the war.
Such position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.
However, no matter what kind of efforts we may make, the sorrows of those who lost their family members and the painful memories of those who underwent immense sufferings by the destruction of war will never be healed.
Thus, we must take to heart the following.
The fact that more than six million Japanese repatriates managed to come home safely after the war from various parts of the Asia-Pacific and became the driving force behind Japan’s postwar reconstruction; the fact that nearly three thousand Japanese children left behind in China were able to grow up there and set foot on the soil of their homeland again; and the fact that former POWs of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and other nations have visited Japan for many years to continue praying for the souls of the war dead on both sides.
How much emotional struggle must have existed and what great efforts must have been necessary for the Chinese people who underwent all the sufferings of the war and for the former POWs who experienced unbearable sufferings caused by the Japanese military in order for them to be so tolerant nevertheless?
That is what we must turn our thoughts to reflect upon.
Thanks to such manifestation of tolerance, Japan was able to return to the international community in the postwar era. Taking this opportunity of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to all the nations and all the people who made every effort for reconciliation.
In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed eighty per cent of its population. We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize. Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.
Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were able to survive in a devastated land in sheer poverty after the war. The future they brought about is the one our current generation inherited and the one we will hand down to the next generation. Together with the tireless efforts of our predecessors, this has only been possible through the goodwill and assistance extended to us that transcended hatred by a truly large number of countries, such as the United States, Australia, and European nations, which Japan had fiercely fought against as enemies.
We must pass this down from generation to generation into the future. We have the great responsibility to take the lessons of history deeply into our hearts, to carve out a better future, and to make all possible efforts for the peace and prosperity of Asia and the world.
We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan attempted to break its deadlock with force. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to firmly uphold the principle that any disputes must be settled peacefully and diplomatically based on the respect for the rule of law and not through the use of force, and to reach out to other countries in the world to do the same. As the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings during war, Japan will fulfill its responsibility in the international community, aiming at the non-proliferation and ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons.
We will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honor of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century. Upon this reflection, Japan wishes to be a country always at the side of such women’s injured hearts. Japan will lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.
We will engrave in our hearts the past, when forming economic blocs made the seeds of conflict thrive. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to develop a free, fair and open international economic system that will not be influenced by the arbitrary intentions of any nation. We will strengthen assistance for developing countries, and lead the world toward further prosperity. Prosperity is the very foundation for peace. Japan will make even greater efforts to fight against poverty, which also serves as a hotbed of violence, and to provide opportunities for medical services, education, and self-reliance to all the people in the world.
We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan ended up becoming a challenger to the international order. Upon this reflection, Japan will firmly uphold basic values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights as unyielding values and, by working hand in hand with countries that share such values, hoist the flag of “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” and contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever before.
Heading toward the 80th, the 90th and the centennial anniversary of the end of the war, we are determined to create such a Japan together with the Japanese people.”
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C. issued an editorial on Sept. 2 titled, “We stand with U.S. for peace.” The article was authored by Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States.
Anniversary of 1945 victory over fascism should recall U.S. and China’s united battle to preserve international order.
A huge black-and-white photograph in the central hall of the Chinese Embassy in Washington draws visitors’ attention. In the photo, taken during World War II, a young American soldier and a Chinese boy are crouching in the trenches while holding two pigeons in their hands. Above the photo are these words: For Justice and Peace.
The photo touches our hearts because it is a testament to the history created by Chinese and American people together. In history’s deadliest war, people of different nations united to defeat the fascist forces with immeasurable cost of life and property. While hatred faded away, we should not forget that peace and justice are never free.
On Thursday, Beijing will host an event to commemorate the victory over fascism. It aims not only to remember those who sacrificed everything, but also to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, honoring China, the U.S. and all peace-loving countries. We will never forget that China and the U.S. were allies fighting side by side, and will be forever grateful for the contributions made by the U.S. in supporting China’s resistance against Japanese aggression. American friends, including veterans of the famous Flying Tigers, have been invited to join the event.
The victory of 1945 laid the foundation for today’s international order. The charter of the United Nations, born in the ruins of World War II, raised a series of important principles governing current international relations, such as sovereign equality, collective security, international cooperation and common development. These shared values will never be outdated. They still play a central role in maintaining international order. Since World War II, despite the Cold War and some regional conflicts, the trend toward peace and development has remained strong, with the U.N. and many other international mechanisms playing greater roles in world affairs.
Now the world is undergoing profound change. Globalization has deepened ties between countries. A number of developing countries, including China, are offering more public goods to the international community with growing capabilities. Meanwhile, the international community is faced with many challenges – such as terrorism, climate change, financial risks, extreme poverty and natural disaster – that require better coordination. While the frameworks of current international order should remain stable, it is important to adapt to the changing situation. Gradual reforms and adjustments should be introduced through inclusive consultations.
However, change often brings anxiety. Some people are suspicious that China is trying to challenge current international order and U.S. global leadership. They believe that such attempts will inevitably lead to conflict, or even war. Yet the simple fact is that China has achieved remarkable growth by committing to the peaceful development path, carrying out reform and opening up. China benefits from the current international order and has been the guardian of such order. Being an irrational challenger does not serve its interests. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is one of the efforts made by China to complement the World Bank and other regional development banks, not to challenge them. We welcome U.S. participation.
Differences between China and the U.S. have neither undermined our shared international responsibilities nor hindered our cooperation in various areas. We should look beyond our differences, stay committed to the core values and the major framework of the post-war international order, and steadfastly reject behaviors that challenge them. China and the U.S. should also leverage our respective advantages to explore new measures to enhance cooperation in global governance. So far, we have tremendous achievements, such as tackling climate change and the Ebola epidemic. Later this month, President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to the United States, during which President Obama and President Xi will have the opportunity to share their visions on the international order.
The young American soldier in the photo may never know that his friendship with a little boy in a remote Chinese village can transcend time and distance. Just like we did 70 years ago, China and the U.S., together with other members of the international community, should and will continue to maintain and improve the international order.