June 23 (UPI) -- Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki made a "peace declaration" Sunday on the 74th anniversary of the end of the World War II ground battle that claimed hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives.
Speaking at an annual memorial service for the 200,000 local residents, Japanese and U.S. soldiers that were killed in the battle at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Tamaki called for the government to abandon plans to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the island prefecture.
"We must pass down Okinawa's warm heart we call 'chimugukuru' and its spirit of peace, inherited from our ancestors to our children and grandchildren," said Tamaki.
Okinawa hosts the majority of U.S. military facilities in Japan, where the central government and the United States have sought to continue with the relocation of the base from a residential district in Ginowan to a less populated area on the Henoko coast.
During his speech, Tamaki noted the government has moved forward with the plan despite a "No" vote in a February referendum on the issue.
"The central government has ignored public opinion and treated local autonomy like a piece of dirt," he said. "With all our strength and all our hearts, we will work to create a peaceful society that is filled with all-inclusive diversity and tolerance to protect every person's dignity."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke at the memorial, saying he will promote the project and that the relocation plan "doesn't mean a base will be added."
"People in Okinawa have been shouldering a heavy burden that comes with the concentration of U.S. military bases," Abe said. "I am determined to deliver results to reduce the burden."