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Prayers, rhetoric mark 67th anniversary of WWII battle

Date Posted: 2012-06-27

Thousands of Okinawans filled Peace Memorial Park in Itoman Saturday to remember the day the guns fell silent after 82 days of battle on Okinawa, a grisly three months that left some 241,000 people dead.

A minute of silence at Noon marked the main memorial, while a ceremony earlier was held by the United Services Organization, United Seamen’s Service and American Chamber of Commerce Okinawa in front of the cenotaph, which listed the names of Americans killed in the Battle of Okinawa. Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck Jr., the III Marine Expeditionary Force commander, recounted the days of war.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda used the ceremony as an opportunity to promise Okinawa his goal is to reduce the American military bases on Okinawa. “It’s very regrettable that we have imposed a massive burden on the people of Okinawa for such a long time,” he told the crowd that included Governor Hirokazu Nakaima. He promised “I will make every effort to ease the burden of hosting the U.S. bases so substantial progress can be made.

The governor was more blunt, calling directly for Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to be moved outside Okinawa “at the earliest possible date.” The chairman of Okinawa’s Prefectural Assembly, Zenshin Takamine, was demanding “I expect the central government to work on national security,” but also lobbying against the MV-22 Osprey. “We cannot accept the deployment”, he said of plans to bring the transport plane to Futenma.

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