Britain's Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to the sacrifice of soldiers on the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, which marks victory over Japan and the end of World War Two, as she recalled the anguish of the war and joy of its conclusion.
Japan signalled its intention to surrender on August 15, 1945, after atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States. Japan's emperor has expressed "deep remorse" for the country's wartime past.
Elizabeth, 94, said she would never forget the jubilant scenes and overwhelming sense of relief at the end of the war.
"Amongst the joy at the end of the conflict, we also remembered, as we do today, the terrible devastation that it brought, and the cost borne by so many," she said in a message.
"Prince Philip and I join many around the world in sending our grateful thanks to the men and women from across the Commonwealth, and Allied nations, who fought so valiantly to secure the freedoms we cherish today."
Elizabeth, a teenager when the war broke out, learned to drive military trucks and be a mechanic while serving in the women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. She was in Buckingham Palace when it was bombed in September 1940.
Her husband, Philip, who served in the British navy during the war and was on board the destroyer HMS Whelp in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrender was signed, will feature in a photo montage of living veterans which will be shown on large screens in locations across the country.
His son, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, will lead a national two minute silence at the National Memorial Arboretum in central England while grandson Prince William will feature in a special BBC TV programme.