Okinawa Memorial Day marks 76 years since Battle of Okinawa

Okinawa Memorial Day marks 76 years since Battle of Okinawa

At noon on June 23, participants offer a silent prayer at Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni, Itoman City.

June 23, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


The memorial service for all war fallen (hosted by the Okinawa prefectural government, prefectural assembly) was held on June 23 at Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni, Itoman City, which was a battlefield during the late stages of the Battle of Okinawa. During the ceremony, participants reminisced about the more than 200,000 people who lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa and prayed for lasting peace. At the noon time signal, participants offered a silent prayer for the war fallen. Governor Denny Tamaki vowed, in his peace declaration, “We will properly pass on the war experiences and lessons to the next generation in response to the desires of all those who have experienced war, so as to never repeat such a tragedy.” Last year, amidst the coronavirus crisis, the number of invited participants was 161 people, and this year the number was further winnowed down to 30 people.

Memorial ceremonies are held at various locations throughout Okinawa, marking 76 years since the Battle of Okinawa ended, to strengthen the feeling of resolve in praying for peace without forgetting the horrors of war.

In his peace declaration, Governor Tamaki pointed out that even though next year will mark 50 years since the return of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty, U.S. military bases are still concentrated on Okinawa, and U.S. military aircraft noise, environmental problems, and U.S. military-related incidents and accidents are ongoing. He stated, “We request efforts that attempt to reduce the evident overlarge military base burden on Okinawa”, demanding that the Japanese and U.S. governments not be particular about Henoko, Nago City being the relocation site of Futenma Air Station.

Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Okinawa prefectural government did not invite Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and other important persons from the national government this year. Prime Minister Suga said, in a video message, “It is determined that step-by-step, results will definitely be achieved in the reduction of the military base burden on Okinawa,” and made no reference to relocation problems.

Chairman Tokumasa Miyagi of the Okinawa Association of Bereaved Families mentioned that he was heartbroken when he was the only person that showed up for an Association meeting due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and stated his determination that “We will continue taking action under the strong conviction that ‘bereaved families of the war fallen’ will never be created again.”

Second-year student Miharu Uehara of Miyakojima Municipal Nishibe Junior High School recited the peace poem Miruku-yu no Uta, which carries the sentiment for creating a peaceful world together.

Starting in the early morning, many people brought their families to visit the Cornerstone of Peace, upon which the names of 241,632 domestic and foreign war fallen are engraved. The desire for peace remained strong as the raindrops caressed the names of the deceased upon the Cornerstone of Peace.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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