2024年7月7日日曜日

OKINAWA MARKS 79TH ANNIVERSARY OF END OF WWII GROUND BATTLE - NAHA OKINAWA TOKYO JAPAN

OKINAWA MARKS 79TH ANNIVERSARY OF END OF WWII GROUND BATTLE - NAHA OKINAWA TOKYO JAPAN

@Jackie San


Okinawa on Sunday marked the 79th anniversary of the end of a fierce World War II ground battle between Japanese and U.S. troops that claimed over 200,000 lives.


A memorial service, attended by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, was held at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, the site of the final stage of the battle, where the names of 181 people were added to the list of the war dead inscribed on monuments, bringing the total to 242,225.


The fighting from March through June 1945 took a heavy toll on the local civilian population, with one in four of the Japanese southern island prefecture's residents killed.


Okinawa remained under U.S. administration until 1972 and has continued to host the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan.


In his address at the ceremony, Kishida acknowledged that Okinawa's residents "bear the heavy burden of having a concentration of U.S. bases" in their prefecture, pledging to do his best "to ease that burden."


But Kishida's remarks come as the central government pushes ahead with its plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a densely populated area in Ginowan to the coastal area of Henoko in Nago, both on Okinawa's main island.


In January, the state began construction work on a part of the relocation site despite strong local opposition. Anti-base sentiment runs deep due to noise, pollution, and a number of high-profile crimes committed by American service members.


Japan has also been strengthening its defense capabilities in the prefecture as tensions grow with China over Taiwan and the nearby Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets controlled by Tokyo and claimed by Beijing, raising concern among Okinawans that their region could again become the front line in a conflict.


In March, Japan deployed its first surface-to-ship missile unit on Okinawa's main island amid China's increasing maritime assertiveness.


"The rapidly expanding presence of (Japan's) Self-Defense Forces in the prefecture, along with the tragic memories of the Battle of Okinawa, have left residents extremely concerned," Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki said in his address at the ceremony, echoing remarks he made the previous year.

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