Japan remembers Battle of Okinawa

June 23, 2013 at 10:14 AM
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ITOMAN, Japan, June 23 (UPI) -- About 5,800 gathered in Okinawa Sunday to remember the 68th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, including U.S. and Japanese government officials.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Ambassador John Roos both attended the ceremony, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Abe gave a short address at the event, saying, "Okinawa, which lies at the gateway to Asia, has great potential. The development of Okinawa is an important pillar of the country's policy. It goes without saying that the concentration of U.S. bases are a still great burden on the people of Okinawa. I vow once more to do whatever I can to lighten the burden on Okinawa even a little bit."

During the ceremony, Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima called on the Japanese and U.S. governments to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is located just outside of Okinawa prefecture, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

Okinawans suffered "great afflictions that cannot be healed in their lifetime" during the Battle of Okinawa, Nakaima said. "We strongly hope that lessons from the Battle of Okinawa will be carried over and the pacifist principles that Japan has established will be upheld."

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