Okinawa marks 73 years since WW2 battle

Okinawa marks 73 years since WW2 battle

Okinawa Prefecture in southwestern Japan has marked the 73rd anniversary of the end of a battle that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the closing days of World War Two.

The prefecture held a ceremony on Saturday at the Peace Memorial Park in the city of Itoman. About 5,100 took part. At noon, they offered a one-minute silent prayer.

June 23rd, 1945 is regarded as the final day of the Japanese military's organized combat against US forces in Okinawa. The battle killed more than 200,000 people, including a quarter of the entire population of Okinawa.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga read out a declaration of peace. He said the tragedy of the Battle of Okinawa taught people lessons about the stupidity of war and the preciousness of life.

He said he opposed a plan by the Japanese and US governments to relocate a US airbase to a new site, also in Okinawa, calling it "totally impermissible."

Onaga said tensions in East Asia have been easing, referring to the US-North Korea summit earlier this month.

The governor called on the people to think hard about the situation of US bases in Okinawa and the Japan-US security relationship. The prefecture now hosts about 70 percent of facilities exclusively used by the US military in Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan's peace and prosperity are built on Okinawa's suffering and sorrow.

He said he will do everything he can to ease the burden on Okinawa.