Speaking at a ceremony in Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi apologized for the "great damages and pain" Japan inflicted on its neighbors.
"In the past war, our nation caused a lot of nations, especially in Asia, much pain and destruction," Koizumi said. "I offer my prayers and my condolences to all those that fell in the war and who were its victims. Today, upon the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, the [Japanese] cabinet -- in its statement -- has once again reflected on the mistakes of the past war and has confirmed our resolution to never again engage in war, and to work for world peace and prosperity."
Koizumi has indicated he will not visit the Yasukuni shrine, a Shinto memorial where Japanese wartime leaders are honored with Japan's 2.5 million war dead. Such a visit would likely anger China and South Korea, who say the memorial glorifies Japan's imperial past.
However at least one Japanese cabinet member and lawmakers were among the thousands of Japanese who visited the shrine today.
In China, where anti-Japanese sentiment runs deep, police were guarding Japan's Beijing embassy, while protesters marched on Tokyo's consulate in Hong Kong, saying Japan had not sufficiently atoned for its military aggression.
In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard lauded Australian troops who become the first among the Allies to defeat Japanese land forces in Papua New Guinea.
(AP)For RFE/RL's coverage of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, see "World War II: 60 Years After"