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Reuters via Yahoo 'reports' below.
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September 8 8:53 PM ET
Japan, U.S. Celebrate 50 Years of Friendship
By Andrew Quinn SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -
The United States and Japan formally renewed their strategic partnership on Saturday, celebrating the 50th anniversary of a landmark treaty which brought peace to the Pacific and set the stage for Japan's rise as Asia's most prosperous economy.
At a ceremony at San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House -- where on Sept. 8, 1951, signatories from 49 nations officially put an end to the Second World War -- Secretary of State Colin Powell and Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka vowed to strengthen what has become one of the most enduring alliances of the post-War world.
``What's been accomplished is clear. What remains to be accomplished is also clear,'' Powell said. ``It is up to us to modernize our alliances and adjust them to new realities.''
Those realities include economic problems in both the United States and Japan, and an increasingly complex security equation in Asia, where lingering Cold War tensions continue to strain both the Korean peninsula and China and Taiwan.
Both Japan and the United States vowed on Saturday to face these issues together, building on five decades of friendship forged by the San Francisco peace pact and the U.S.-Japan security treaty.
``The San Francisco Peace Treaty restored Japan to full sovereignty, equality and freedom. It enabled my country to rejoin postwar international society,'' Tanaka said.
``(Our) two nations have become indispensable partners. History has proved that these decisions were right.''
PROTESTS AND AN APOLOGY
Dignitaries including former Secretary of State George Schultz and former Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa watched Powell and Tanaka sign a statement of friendship.
Hundreds of protesters also gathered outside the Opera House to demand the Japanese government formally apologize and make reparations for atrocities its army inflicted upon Asians and U.S. prisoners during the Second World War.
``We want people to understand the peace treaty was a fraud,'' said Eugene Wei, one of the protest organizers. ``Japan, for all these years, has not apologized for the atrocities.''
Tanaka sounded a conciliatory note, reaffirming a 1995 apology by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama and, for the first time, singling out prisoners of war for special mention.
``We have never forgotten that Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries during the last war,'' Tanaka said. ``The war left an incurable scar on many people, including former prisoners of war.''
But Tanaka's ``feelings of deep remorse'' for wartime atrocities did little to cool the anger of former POWs like Lester Tenney. He has led demands for a more formal apology to the thousands of U.S. soldiers who were forced into slave labor for wartime Japanese corporations such as Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co Ltd.
``I was not impressed at all ... I was looking for an apology,'' Tenney said after the ceremony. ``That was disgraceful. She would have been better not to say anything.''
The United States and Japan hold that, as a matter of international law, the San Francisco treaty resolved all postwar settlement issues, and both the U.S. State and Justice Departments have gone to court to block attempts by individuals to sue for reparations.
Powell, speaking to reporters before the ceremony, said that while the United States had ``utmost compassion'' for the POWs and other victims of wartime Japanese aggression, the treaty effectively closed the book on compensation demands.
``That's the position we're in, and that's the position we have to defend,'' he said.
During a working lunch before the ceremony, Powell and Tanaka held a ``frank exchange of views'' on a number of issues of mutual concern -- chief among them the slowing economies of both Japan and the United States.
Powell said he was confident the government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was committed to addressing Japan's systemic economic problems, including nonperforming loans.
``They've got a tough job ahead of them,'' he said.
Powell also applied gentle pressure on Tanaka to take up the battle for a greater Japanese role in the world stage, noting Tokyo was ``starting to understand the obligations that they have as a world power.''