Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito urges 'correct' war history

File photo of Japanese war veterans standing to attention with the navy flag as they pay their respect to the war dead at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine Image copyright AP
Image caption Japan will mark the 70th anniversary of its surrender in WWII in August

The Japanese crown prince has stressed the importance of remembering Japan's wartime history "correctly".

Prince Naruhito told a news conference to mark his birthday that it was important to "look back humbly on the past".

In August Japan will mark 70 years since its surrender in World War Two.

Last week Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed a 16-member panel to advise him on a much anticipated statement that he will make at the anniversary.

The statement will be scrutinised closely by Japan's neighbours as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has angered them in the past with his backing for a more sympathetic view of Japan's imperial aggression.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prince Naruhito is Japan's heir apparent

At the press conference on Monday to mark his 55th birthday, Prince Naruhito responded to a question about the wartime anniversary.

"I myself did not experience the war... but I think that it is important today, when memories of the war are fading, to look back humbly on the past and correctly pass on the tragic experiences and history Japan pursued from the generation which experienced the war to those without direct knowledge," he said.

Japanese school history text books have long been accused of whitewashing Japan's wartime atrocities.

Prime Minister Abe has also inflamed tensions with China and South Korea by his visit in December 2013 to Japan's controversial Yasukuni war shrine and his cabinet's suggestion that it was reviewing a 1993 apology for using Asian sex slaves during the war.

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