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Emperor, empress to visit Okinawa in March to pay tribute to war dead

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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko plan to visit Okinawa in March to pay tribute to those who died in the fierce ground battle there during World War II, a source close to the Imperial Household Agency said Friday.

During the three-day trip from March 27, the imperial couple are expected to visit Japan's westernmost island of Yonaguni for the first time, in addition to Okinawa's main island.

The trip is being arranged as the imperial couple strongly desire to revisit Okinawa ahead of the 84-year-old emperor's planned abdication in April 2019, the source said.

It would be their 11th trip to Okinawa, including visits the couple made as crown prince and crown princess. They last visited the southern island prefecture in June 2014 in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in 1945.

The emperor and empress have long felt sympathy for Okinawa, where around a quarter of local residents died in a three-month ground battle. The total death toll from the battle exceeded 200,000, including Americans.

Okinawa was occupied by the United States after the war, reverting to Japanese control in May 1972. Resentment still runs deep over the continuing burden on the prefecture from hosting the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan.

The source said the emperor and empress will fly to Okinawa's main island and visit the National War Dead Peace Mausoleum in the city of Itoman on March 27 to pay respects to the war dead.

After staying overnight in the prefectural capital Naha, they are expected to make a one-day trip to Yonaguni Island to visit a stone monument marking Japan's westernmost point and to fly back to Tokyo on the third day.

Complex emotions swirled among Okinawans after the war.

During the couple's first trip to the prefecture in July 1975, three years after the reversion to Japanese control, activists threw a firebomb when the couple visited the Himeyuri war memorial in the southern part of the Okinawa battlefield.

The then-crown prince issued a statement saying, "I deeply reflect on wounds of prefecture residents from the Battle of Okinawa."

After ascending to the throne in 1989, he visited Okinawa in April 1993 to attend a national tree-planting ceremony, becoming the first Japanese emperor to visit the prefecture.

The emperor and empress observe a silent prayer every year on four war-related dates -- June 23, when the Battle of Okinawa ended, Aug. 6, when the first U.S. atomic bomb was detonated over Hiroshima, Aug. 9, the day of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, and Aug. 15, when the current emperor's father, Emperor Hirohito, told the nation over the radio of the end of the war, according to agency officials. The couple view them as "four days that should never be forgotten," they said.

The emperor and empress, 83, have traveled to former battlefields to sooth some of the wounds of the war as well as to disaster-hit areas to console victims.

The agency is considering arranging more trips for such purposes before the emperor's abdication, the source said.

© KYODO

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I would seriously like to join them on this visit. I do so admire this Regal Couple.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

During the couple's first trip to the prefecture in July 1975, three years after the reversion to Japanese control, activists threw a firebomb when the couple visited the Himeyuri war memorial in the southern part of the Okinawa battlefield. The then-crown prince issued a statement saying, "I deeply reflect on wounds of prefecture residents from the Battle of Okinawa."

This incident was not particularly directed towards the Crown Prince but towards his father Hirohito. There was a huge amount of anger towards Hirohito for sacrificing so many lives here, and he never came to Okinawa as the Emperor to apologize either. Folks here were royally po'd

This Emperor is loved dearly by the Okinawan people as they have worked very hard to make amends, I for one am glad they will come before they abdicate.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Okinawa was occupied by the United States after the war, reverting to Japanese control in May 1972. Resentment still runs deep over the continuing burden on the prefecture from hosting the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan.

Would it be preferable for the Americans to withdraw their "burden" and allow Japan to become a colony of North Korea?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Designer, Okinawa is in zero danger of being overrun by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. This is just another scare tacit employed by Americans.

I would love to be in Okinawa for the visit by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is just another scare tacit employed by Americans.

Excuse me? More like a scare tactic from Abe. The US has NEVER alluded to, talked about, or ever has felt "threatened" by NK.

Ya'll need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

re:  they have worked very hard to make amends,"

This occurred as a result of being told by Hirohito before he passed away.

However as history shows, it was not the Emperor calling the shots but the ministers and military masterminds.  It was the original Ryukyu natives who paid the ultimate price on both ends, of WWII and the forced annexation of the islands.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This occurred as a result of being told by Hirohito before he passed away.

And how in the world do you KNOW this? Do you work in the IHA?

 It was the original Ryukyu natives who paid the ultimate price on both ends, of WWII and the forced annexation of the islands.

What the hell are you talking about? The annexation of Okinawa occurred decades prior to WWII and Hirohito wasn't even born yet!

Oh and just who are the "original" Ryukyu natives as you call them?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Emperor, empress to visit Okinawa in March to pay tribute to war dead

First of all, I'm glad that the Emperor and Empress will visit to Okinawa to pay tribute to war dead and hope he can heal the old wartime wounds.

Okinawa was occupied by the United States after the war, reverting to Japanese control in May 1972. Resentment still runs deep over the continuing burden on the prefecture from hosting the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan.. 

But let's not forget it was Japan who annexed Okinawa long before the war, took away their sovereignty, forcing Okinawa to assimilate as part of Japan, treated Okinawans as second/third class people, forbid Okinawans to speak their own language and practice their unique culture, and occupied the Island as colonizers until 1945.

During the 1930s and 1940s the Japanese military (using Okinawans as slave labor) built heavily fortified defense network of tunnels and caves throughout the island and used Okinawa as a military base and "sacrificial lamb" to buy time to prepare for the American invasion of the mainland that fortunately never came.

My 92-year-old Okinawan grandmother and surviving relatives who lived in Japan-occupied Okinawa before and during the war, remembers how the Imperial Japanese government and military treated Okinawans and still harbors resentment toward Japan in general. On the other hand, she found the postwar U.S. Marines and Army to be more benign, generous and respectful compared to the Japanese Imperial military.

The current generation Okinawans have no direct experience with Japan as an imperialistic occupier and colonizer.

It would be a generous act for the Emperor to apologize to the Okinawan people for what Japan did to Okinawa during those times. But we know this is an unrealistic expectation; Japan never apologizes for its actions.

More likely he'll say the Battle of Okinawa and casualties was a regrettable event and leave it at that. No accountability, no remorse, no apologies.

Would it be preferable for the Americans to withdraw their "burden" and allow Japan to become a colony of North Korea?

Let's rephrase this. "Would it be preferable for the Americans to withdraw their "burden" and allow Okinawa to become a colony of China?"

China is very interested in getting the American military presence (and Japanese presence) out of Okinawa and would be willing to help Okinawa to become an independent country to achieve that end. With the American "burden" out of the picture, China can resurrect their claim that the Ryukyu Islands belong to them.

American imperialistic scare tactic? Look how close the Senkaku Islands are to Okinawa and what the Chinese are doing there. Okinawa would be the perfect location for China to base its military presence and control the South China Seas region.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

American imperialistic scare tactic? Look how close the Senkaku Islands are to Okinawa and what the Chinese are doing there. Okinawa would be the perfect location for China to base its military presence and control the South China Seas region.

There are plenty of anti-military folks here on JT that conveniently choose to overlook this issue. The JSDF has been pretty damn busy with dealing the intrusions by the Chinese navy and air force. THe intrusions happen almost daily, and due to their frequency the local news has stopped reporting it daily and only reports on it when it's more than 1 or 2 ships or planes.

China wants direct access to the Pacific Ocean, Okinawa stands in the way.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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