Ceremony to mark 69th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa: pledge not to wage wars again

Ceremony to mark 69th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa: pledge not to wage wars again

Ceremony participants offered incense at the Peace Memorial Park, Mabuni in Itoman around 1:00 p.m. on June 23. (Photograph taken by Masatoshi Moromizato).

June 24, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

A ceremony to mark the 69th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa was held at the Peace Memorial Park, Mabuni in Itoman on June 23. The participants prayed for over 200,000 victims of the war and reaffirmed their commitment to lasting world peace.

The services were held at war memorials all around Okinawa, and attended by many Okinawan people who prayed for the victims of the war.

Following Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s approval of the Henoko landfill last December, the Japanese government has been pressing forward with its plan to build a new U.S. military base to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Henoko, Nago. Many Okinawan people oppose the plan. The chairwoman of Bereaved Families of Okinawa Prefecture War Dead Joint Association Naeko Teruya advocated for the base to be moved outside Okinawa. Masaharu Kina, the chairman of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly asked for swift closure and removal of the base.

In his peace declaration for the ceremony, Nakaima stated, “I will do my best to lessen the base-hosting burden on the people of Okinawa, including relocating the base outside Okinawa.”

Participants at the memorial services voiced protest against the Abe administration’s reinterpretation or revision of the Constitution of Japan, which will allow Japan to use the right to collective defense.

From early morning, there was a continuous stream of bereaved families visiting the memorial park. Some of them dedicated flowers with their children and grandchildren in front of the Cornerstone of Peace memorial where the names of victims are inscribed. Others traced their fingers over the names of their parents and relatives.

A peace march dedicated to the war dead started at Itoman City Office at 9:00 p.m. The participants marched through the war sites in the southern parts of the prefecture. They then took part in the ceremony and prayed.

According to the organizer, about 4,600 people took part. The ceremony had about 5,800 attendees last year. At noon, participants fell silent in honor of the war dead.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan Bunmei Ibuki and House of Councillors President Masaaki Yamazaki, and U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy attended the ceremony.

Takeru Masuda of Ishigaki City Makira Elementary School read out a poem, which drew a big applause.

The peace memorial had 54 more names added. The number of inscribed names on the memorial reached 241,281.

(English translation by T&CT)

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