In a 4 1/2-minute radio speech on Aug. 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender in World War Two, telling his subjects he had resolved to pave the way for peace by “enduring the unendurable”. Seventy-five years later, the unresolved legacy of the conflict haunts Tokyo’s ties with China and South Korea, even as the countries cope with a COVID-19 pandemic that is forcing Japan to scale back its Aug. 15 ceremony for war dead. In Japan, consensus over the war’s legacy is elusive. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has adopted a less-apologetic stance and wants to revise a post-war, pacifist constitution that conservatives see as a humiliating symbol of defeat. A majority of the public opposes altering the charter, long viewed as a breakwater against repeating past mistakes. “The legacy of the war, the unresolved issues of historical justice and historical understanding, remain very much with us,” said Daniel Sneider, a lecturer in East Asian studies at Stanford University. “Does time heal all wounds? Soon there will be nobody who experienced the war … Do the issues disappear?” Sneider added. “No, they don’t, because they are so wrapped up with the formation of identity in all these countries.” Many Koreans, who mark Aug. 15 as “National Liberation Day”, still resent Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule, while China has bitter memories of Japan’s invasion and occupation from 1931 to 1945. It celebrates “Victory Over Japan” day on Sept. 3, one day after Tokyo’s formal surrender. Partly because the COVID-19 pandemic dominates attention, debate over Japan’s war responsibility has been more muted than on the 70th anniversary, which Abe marked with a controversial statement. At the time, Abe expressed “utmost grief” over the conflict but said future generations should not have to keep apologising for mistakes of the past and offered no fresh apology. Disputes with Seoul over Koreans forced to work for wartime Japanese firms and “comfort women”, a euphemism for those pushed into Japan’s wartime military brothels, are still flashpoints.