Japan marks 'restoration of sovereignty' day that Shinzo Abe hopes will restore Japanese pride


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during joint news conference with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on April 29, 2013.



Japan has marked a new national day that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he hopes will restore Japanese national pride.

The Emperor Akihito attended the ceremony in Tokyo for "Restoration of Sovereignty Day" marking the 1952 signing of a treaty with the US and the Allies formally ending World War II and the Allied occupation.

Akihito's father, Hirohito, as Japan's wartime leader made a historic broadcast announcing the terms of surrender to the Japanese people in 1945.

However, Abe, who won a landslide election last December, wants to revise the pacifist Constitution drafted by the US in the wake of Japan's surrender, and rewrite the country's wartime history "with a less apologetic tone," Reuters wrote.

In commemorating the restoration of Japan's post-war sovereignty, Abe called for a renewal of a "sense of hope and determination."

He told a ceremony attended by about 400 people:

"I wish to mark this day as a major milestone and make this a day on which we renew our hopes and our determination towards the future, reflecting on the path we have followed."

According to Australia's ABC News, Abe's statements — and the establishment of "Restoration of Sovereignty Day" — is raising concerns in China and South Korea.

Beijing and Seoul are wary of signs of rising nationalism in Japan.

Both countries were occupied by the Japanese during World War II and have long-standing territorial disputes with Tokyo.

Japan and China, for example, are involved in a standoff over uninhabited island in the East China Sea.

Meanwhile, Asahi Shimbun reported that nationalist groups had targeted ethnic Koreans in Tokyo's Korea town. 

Separately, Restoration of Sovereignty Day was marked by protests in Okinawa, which remained in US hands until 1972, and still plays host to US troops.

Norio Motomura, an activist from Okinawa, told Japan Times:

"April 28 is considered the day when Japan, with the San Francisco Peace Treaty, recovered its independence while keeping Okinawa in the prison of the US military."

People on the island labeled the ceremony a "humiliation" for Okinawa. 

However, Abe told his audience:

"We have a responsibility to make Japan a strong and resolute country that others across the world can rely on."