JAPAN will offer the hand of friendship to Hong Kong's war veterans by promoting a peace initiative in the territory to mark the 50th anniversary of World War II this year. The Japanese Consulate yesterday confirmed it would be marking the historic time with a promotion of the Prime Minister's Peace, Friendship and Exchange initiative. A consul official also admitted he was prepared for a barrage of protests and lobbying by war veterans' associations in Hong Kong during August. 'I would expect these associations will be taking the opportunity to protest to the Japanese Government,' the official said. 'But we will be taking the opportunity to promote our own initiative at a time when there will be much attention on Japan.' Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama announced in August last year a US$1 billion (HK$7.73 billion) initiative to foster peace, friendship and understanding in neighbouring Asian countries and elsewhere around the world. The consulate official in Hong Kong said rather than let the 50th anniversary go by quietly, it would actively promote the initiatives in the full glare of world publicity. 'We will be using the 50th anniversary to turn the remorse of the war into reality,' the official said. 'The 50th anniversary provides a good opportunity.' Victory over Japan Day is on August 15 and Liberation Day on August 30. The official said while no specific events were planned, the consulate would endeavour to promote the Prime Minister's initiative, which centres around supporting historical research into the war and providing academic and youth exchanges to promote 'mutual understanding'. The initiative has been dismissed by the war veterans as skirting the issue of compensation for which some associations in the territory and elsewhere in the world are considering taking legal action.