Memorial Held For Wwii Battle Of Okinawa Victims

Memorial held for WWII Battle of Okinawa victims

Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa has held a ceremony to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the end of a fierce ground battle during the final stages of World War Two.

About 5,100 people took part in the event at the Peace Memorial Park in the city of Itoman on Sunday. They held a minute-long silent prayer at noon.

More than 200,000 people, including a quarter of the prefecture's population, lost their lives when the Imperial Japanese military fought US forces in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

The Japanese military's organized combat ended on June 23. Each year, the prefecture holds a service on that date to remember the dead.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki called for efforts to forge a world of everlasting peace. He pledged to work together with the people of Okinawa.

Tamaki noted the central government is pushing ahead with land reclamation work to relocate a US base within the prefecture even after a local referendum in February showed more than 70 percent of voters are against the work.

Tamaki accused the central government of ignoring the will of the people, as shown through democratic procedures, and destroying local autonomy.

He urged the central government to abandon the perception that the current plan is the only solution, and to listen to the people of Okinawa to seek a resolution through dialogue with the prefecture.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged that the government will do its best to reduce the burden on Okinawa of hosting US military installations, based on a policy of doing everything it can toward concrete progress.