Okinawa on Monday marked the 69th anniversary of a bloody World War II battle. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the ceremony at the Peace Park in Itoman, along with leaders of the lower and upper houses of the Diet, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.
A minute of silence was observed at noon for all victims of the Battle of Okinawa.
Okinawa fell to the U.S. after three months of bloody fighting in 1945. An estimated 250,000 people, including 150,000 Okinawan civilians, Japanese combatants and American soldiers, are believed to have died in the battle which began in April 1945. The names of more than 241,000 dead—Japanese and non-Japanese—are inscribed on a monument at the Peace Park.
In his speech, Abe paid tribute to the sacrifices made by Okinawans and the blood shed by its people, NHK reported. As he did last year, Abe once again pledged to ease the burden of local residents opposed to a heavy U.S. military presence on the island.
A plan to move the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma base from a crowded residential area to a sparsely populated area on the island has made nearly no progress because of islanders' push to move it outside Okinawa.© AP/Japan Today