Emperor Hirohito said Monday at a ceremony marking the 43rd anniversary of the end of World War II that "it still hurts my heart" to think of those who died in battle and their families.

He also praised Japan's development and expansion since the end of the war.Hirohito, 87, the only surviving leader of the major participating countries in the war, walked slowly at the public hall outside the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo.

He walked without assistance and spoke in a firm voice.