Annual Peace Memorial Service held at Mabuni

A memorial service was held Monday to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa near the end of WWII.

The annual ceremony took place at the Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni, Itoman City, and guests included Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, heads of both chambers of the Japanese diet, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy along with local dignitaries and about 4,600 other participants.

In his peace declaration speech, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima said, “We will push forward with efforts to realize lasting peace by bringing together the strong will and the wisdom of the people.”

The ceremony was not without controversy as Nakaima decided to eliminate from his speech the demand to move the MCAS Futenma out of the prefecture as he had done previous years, and that angered local peace groups who are already angry at him after he approved the land reclamation project at Henoko.

Instead, Nakaima underscored the need to take every possible measure to eliminate the danger posed by the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air station, located in a densely populated area Ginowan in Okinawa Prefecture.

In his speech, Prime Minister Abe said, “We abhor war and spare no effort to build peace,” adding a promise to promote the development of Okinawa and “do our best to reduce the burden of hosting bases on the people of Okinawa.”

54 more names of victims of the battle were added and inscribed on the “Cornerstone of Peace” wall in the park. It now has a total of 241,281 names from all sides of the war.