Emperor Akihito in a New Year statement on Thursday stressed the importance of learning from World War II.
"I think it is now extremely important that at this opportunity we fully learn from the history of this war... in thinking about the way Japan should be in the future," Akihito, 81, said in a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the emperor and empress are hoping to visit Palau -- one of the most brutal battlefields in the Pacific during World War II -- in April to mourn for the war-dead.
"Those who died on the battlefields, those who died in the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those who died in the air raids on Tokyo and other cities - so many people lost their lives in this war. I think it is most important for us to take this opportunity to study and learn from the history of this war, starting with the Manchurian Incident of 1931, as we consider the future direction of our country," the emperor said.
In his statement, he also touched on the many natural disasters in Japan in 2014.
"Last year many lives were lost to natural disasters such as heavy snow, torrential rains, and the volcanic eruption of Mt Ontake, and my thoughts go out to those who lost their loved ones and their homes in those disasters.
"This is the fourth winter since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and it pains me to think that there are still so many people who cannot return to the places they used to live because of radioactive contamination and so many who face the prospect of a cold, harsh winter in temporary housing. These conditions have made me reflect on the importance of people becoming concerned about and involved in disaster prevention in their respective regions and being prepared to protect their own localities," he said.© Japan Today