War-dead memorial held on Iwojima Island for first time in 3 years

A ceremony has been held on the Pacific island of Iwo-to for the first time in three years to commemorate soldiers who died there during World War Two.

The island, also known as Iwojima, is located about 1,200 kilometers south of Tokyo. The remote island was the site of fierce battles in the closing days of the war. About 21,900 Japanese troops and some 6,800 US servicemen lost their lives there.

The memorial was organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which administers the island. About 20 people took part in the Thursday ceremony, including relatives of the dead. The annual event was held in Tokyo for two years running because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Participants observed a moment of silence and offered flowers for the dead.

A representative of the bereaved relatives who is 82 years old and lost her father in the battle said the war was cruel and harrowing for her family who lost a loved one.

She said many lives, including those of Ukrainian children, are now being lost due to the Russian invasion of that country, and that she hopes peace will return as soon as possible. She pledged that the bereaved relatives will pass on the lessons they have learned to younger generations.

Another participant who is 48 and lost her grandfather said it's heart-breaking to think of him being wounded and dying without water or medicine in such a hot place. She said she wants to pass down the message that war should never be tolerated.