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58th anniversary of end of battle of Okinawa observed

Date Posted: 2003-06-28

Monday marked the 58th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, and ceremonies were held in commemoration. Some 40 guests, including local students, offered flowers to the spirits of all who died in the 1945 battle, which included Allied soldiers, Koreans and people from Taiwan, as well as Okinawans and mainland Japanese.

A memorial ceremony at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City was the primary event, with Governor Keiichi Inamine as the keynote speaker. Inamine renewed his resolve for peace during the ceremony. The Battle of Okinawa was the only World War II ground battle fought on Japanese soil.

"We pledge to contribute to creating international peace by continuing to send out to the world the 'heart of Okinawa' that wishes for peace," Inamine said after a minute of silent prayer. In his speech, Inamine also called for the consolidation of U.S. military bases in Okinawa and a review of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, a theme he has returned to time and again over the past few weeks.

"Vast U.S. military bases remain in Okinawa, forcing the residents who want a peaceful island to bear the excessive burden of hosting them," Inamine said. Absent from the event this year was Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who attended memorial ceremonies the past two years. Instead, he sent a message pledging efforts to reduce the U.S. military's presence in the prefecture. Hiroyuki Hosoda, the state minister in charge of Okinawa affairs, read Koizumi's message.

Koizumi also referred to a recent suspected rape case in Kin Town that has heated up local feelings in Okinawa. "As for the pitiful incident last month, a handover before indictment was realized, but such an incident is quite regrettable and we will continue to call on the U.S. to enforce strict discipline and prevent a recurrence," Koizumi said.

June 23 commemorates the end of the main fighting in Okinawa, with the defeat of the Japanese forces following the March 26, 1945, U.S. landing.

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