Okinawa commemorates 59th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa
On June 23, the 59th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, about 7,000 people participated in a memorial service to honor more than 200,000 people who lost their lives during the battle.
The Okinawa Prefectural Government held a memorial service at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City, where the last fighting took place.
Governor Inamine Keiichi read a peace declaration. Kinjo Sanenori, a third-year high school student, read his original poem titled, "In this war-renouncing country."
Speaking on behalf of the government, Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro said, "We must never repeat such brutal wars," but stopped short of mentioning Self-Defense Force units dispatched in Iraq. He only said that the government has made all-out and sincere efforts to ease the burdens of the U.S. military bases on Okinawan people.
Japanese Communist Party House of Representatives member Akamine Seiken attended the memorial service and offered flowers.
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The names of 111 leprosy patients who had died during the Battle of Okinawa were added to the list of the dead inscribed on the Cornerstone of Peace in the park this year.
Family members of those who died in the battle had to report the victims' names in order to get the names inscribed in the stone. Bereaved family members of leprosy patients had not reported patients' names to prevent others from knowing that they had leprosy patients in their family. (end)