Ceremony to commemorate victims of the Battle of Okinawa

Ceremony to commemorate victims of the Battle of Okinawa

On June 23, at the Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni, Itoman, people burned incense for the repose of the victims’ souls and issued a pledge for lasting peace after the ceremony.

June 24, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 23, at the Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni, Itoman, the Okinawa Prefectural Government and the Prefectural Assembly held a ceremony to commemorate the victims of the Battle of Okinawa. The participants prayed for the more than 200000 people killed in the battle, and issued a pledge for world peace. Commemorative ceremonies were held at war memorials at various locations throughout Okinawa and people prayed for the repose of the victim’s souls. Okinawa marked the 67th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa amid growing protest against the alternative facility construction plan for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko in Nago, and the deployment of the controversial MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft. Naeko Teruya, chairman of Bereaved Families of Okinawa Prefecture War Dead Joint Association, and Zenshin Takamine, chairman of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, called for the cancellation of the Osprey deployment plan, stating that they cannot accept the Osprey coming to Futenma Air Station.

Bereaved family members visited Mabuni one after another early in the morning. Some of them traced their fingers over the names of the war dead inscribed in the Cornerstone of Peace at Mabuni, and prayed. Some elderly people told their grandchildren and great-grandchildren about the people they knew who died during the war.

About 5500 people participated in the ceremony. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima praised the progress Okinawa has made, recently marking the 40th anniversary of its reversion to Japanese sovereignty, saying, “Okinawa has developed impressively.” Nakaima referred to the excessive burden placed on Okinawa by hosting the U.S. military bases, saying, “I demand that the Japanese and U.S. governments relocate Futenma Air Station outside of the prefecture, and carry out fundamental revisions to the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement.”

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said, “I am overwhelmed with shame regarding the fact that we have imposed a massive burden on Okinawan people in hosting the U.S. military bases for such a long time. I promise to do my utmost to ease the burden with tangible progress.” Takahiro Yokomichi, speaker of the Japanese House of Representatives, expressed understanding of the remarks made by Okinawa governor, saying, “We should not ignore the Okinawan people’s significant concerns about the Henoko relocation plan and the deployment of the Osprey to Futenma Air Station. There also needs to be a fundamental revision of the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement.”

Teruya said, “The plan to relocate the facilities at Futenma to Henoko, and the Osprey deployment plan could result in an even greater burden on the Okinawan people. This is not acceptable.” When Mina Kinjo of Shuri High School read a peace poem entitled Think of the names inscribed in the Cornerstone of Peace, the participants fell silent, some wiping tears from their eyes.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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