On August 15, a few days after U.S. atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, then-Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced in a rare public broadcast that the nation had surrendered.
This surrender ended the Pacific battle of World War II and liberated Koreans from Japan’s often-brutal 1910-1945 colonization.
Since then, August 15 has stirred different feelings in the two neighboring countries: bitterness of defeat for one, joy of independence for the other.
I’ve worked as a Reuters photographer for the last nine years in both Seoul (five years) and Tokyo (four years). The contrasting emotions on display around the August 15 anniversary have been reflected in my pictures.
When I worked in Seoul, Korea’s relationship with Japan chilled as former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi repeatedly visited the Yasukuni Shrine. A place which is dedicated to Japan’s 2.5 million war dead including about 1,000 war criminals and 14 Class A war criminals who were convicted by the Allied tribunal after World War Two.