Island-wide prayer calls for world peace

Island-wide prayer calls for world peace

June 23, 2017 by Ryukyu Shimpo

June 23 marks the 72 year anniversary of the cessation of fighting in the Battle of Okinawa on the island. The “Battle of Okinawa War Dead Memorial Service,” (hosted by the Okinawan government and prefectural assembly) which is meant to calm the souls of the over 20,000 victims of the battle as well as to pray for everlasting peace, was held at 11:50 a.m. on the 23rd at the Okinawa Peace Park in Mabuni, Itoman, the location of the final battlefield.

From early in the morning a large number of descendants visited the peace park, touching the “Cornerstone of Peace,” on which is inscribed the names of 241,468 people, including 54 names added this year.

The memorial service was attended by four cabinet members including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as the speakers from both houses of Parliament. The observers held a moment of silence at noon.

At the memorial service Governor Takeshi Onaga read a peace declaration and railed against the absurd reality that 70% of land for U.S. military facilities was in Okinawa, calling for fundamental revisions to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the alleviation of the over-burdening of Okinawa with regard to base-hosting by reducing the number of bases on the island. The governor also touched in the peace cornerstone that was constructed by former governor Masahide Ota, who passed away June 12, and spoke of his determination to pass on the importance of peace to later generations.

After the peace declaration, Ayane Uehara, 17, a senior at Okinawa’s Miyako High School read the peace poem, “Prayer – bringing us closer to our grandmothers.” Earlier that day at 9:00 a.m., the Okinawa Descendants Organization led a peace prayer memorial parade which left from the Itoman City Hall and converged at the memorial.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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