Okinawa Memorial Day ceremony held in Mabuni

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A traditional Irei-no Hi memorial service was held Thursday in the Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni, Itoman, for the 71st anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa.

Participants to the ceremony included Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, heads of both chambers of Japan’s parliament, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and members of Okinawa Prefectural Governent.

The ceremony started with a minute of silence at noon to mourn those killed in the ground battle and renew their wish for peace.

Both Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke. In their speeches, both also touched the recent rape and murder case that sparked a large demonstration in Naha last weekend.

“Horrible wartime experiences are at the root of Okinawa’s wish for peace, The people of Okinawa are feeling anxieties and strong resentment about the inhumane, brutal crime,” Onaga said, adding that “Crimes and accidents have been repeated because there are vast U.S. military bases in Okinawa.”

He went on to demand a drastic revision of the SOFA, and reduction of the U.S. military bases on the island. He specifically wanted to cut the number of Marines stationed in he prefecture, and to cancel the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko, and instead to move the air station out of the prefecture.

In his speech, Prime Minister Abe expressed his “very strong resentment” at the rape and murder case. He also noted that his government and the U.S. are talking about ways to improve the implementation of the SOFA. “We will swiftly take steps so that heart-wrenching crimes will never be repeated,” Abe said. However, he did not mention Henoko or the MCAS Futenma in his speech.

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