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Japan marks 73rd anniversary of end of World War II

TOKYO -- Japan on Aug. 15 marks the 73rd anniversary of the end of World War II, and some 7,000 people -- including bereaved family members of the fallen, the Imperial Couple as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -- are set to attend the annual memorial ceremony for the some 3.1 million Japanese war dead.

    The event will be the last for Emperor Akihito as he is scheduled to abdicate in April next year.

    Attendees of the government-organized event dedicated to the victims of the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II will pray for the souls of the fallen and renew their pledge for peace. According to the government, 5,455 people who lost loved ones in the fighting are scheduled to be at the ceremony. Among them will be just 13 wives of war dead, or 0.2 percent of the total. As many as 2,864 children of those killed in battle, or 52.5 percent, will also be among the participants. The contingent born after the war's end will be the largest it has ever been, with 1,554 people set to attend, or 28.5 percent, signaling a continuing generational shift.

    A total of some 37,000 people are expected to participate in similar ceremonies in 41 prefectures across Japan.

    The memorial ceremony in Tokyo will begin shortly before noon and participants will observe a moment of silence at 12 p.m., followed by the Emperor's speech.

    (Japanese original by Shunsuke Kamiashi, City News Department)

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