Event held in Okinawa marking its return to Japanese rule 51 years ago

People gathered on a cape at the northern tip of Okinawa's main island on Monday to mark the 51st anniversary of the prefecture's reversion to Japan from postwar US rule.

Cape Hedo in Kunigami Village is just over 20 kilometers from Yoron Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. Residents from the two areas used to light beacon fires to pray for Okinawa's return.

Activists who promoted the cause back then gathered at the cape to convey to visitors what Okinawa was like at the time, and how residents continue to be burdened by the presence of US bases in the prefecture.

Yamashiro Seiji, an 87-year-old retired teacher in Nago City, said he had sent some 2,000 letters to people across Japan to explain the situation in Okinawa before it was returned from US rule.

He added that he wants to convey to as many people as possible the excessive burden brought upon the people of Okinawa due to the US military presence.

Kinjo Kenichi, a resident of Ogimi Village near the cape, was married on the day Okinawa was returned to Japan. The 78-year-old said that he had hoped Okinawa would become like Japan's mainland, but that has not been the case at all.

He added that he will continue to make his appeals, though on a smaller scale, to foster people's awareness of the issues posed by the US military bases.