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CHINESE ILL WILL LINGERS DESPITE AKIHITO’S VISIT

SHARE CHINESE ILL WILL LINGERS DESPITE AKIHITO’S VISIT

Japan's Emperor Akihito smiled as he descended from the Great Wall of China on Saturday, a rainbow of flags flapping behind him in the cold wind.

Japanese and Chinese officials are hoping that scenes like this - and not the lingering ill will of World War II - will dominate Akihito's six-day visit, the first ever by a Japanese emperor.But in a country where millions were killed under Japanese wartime occupation, memories die hard.

At a banquet just hours after his arrival on Friday, Akihito did make one of the strongest imperial expressions of war remorse to date, saying he deplored the "great sufferings" Japan "inflicted on the people of China."

Instead of putting the matter to rest, as officials had clearly hoped, the emperor's brief remarks overshadowed all else in the Japanese media and elicited little response from the Chinese public they were meant to placate.

"After eight years, all that killing, I think he had to say something more," said a Beijing University sophomore who identified himself only as Zhang for fear of giving his full name.

Beijing University students staged anti-Japanese demonstrations several times in the 1980s on anniversaries of major events in the war.

Zhang and other students at the prestigious university told a reporter that teachers had told them not to protest during Akihito's visit to avoid harming relations with Japan.

Japan has often been accused of trying to whitewash its past militarism, and its public is still deeply divided over how to interpret the lessons of the war.