Okinawa village marks 79 years since US forces' landing in WWII

Tuesday marked 79 years since the start of ground fighting in Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa in the closing days of World War Two.

The Battle of Okinawa left more than 200,000 people dead. One in four of the residents were killed.

US forces made their first landing in Zamami Village on the Kerama Islands, about 40 kilometers west of Okinawa's main island, on March 26, 1945.

About 1,200 people died in the village in battles between Japanese and US troops. The casualties included those who died in a mass suicide.

On Tuesday, bereaved families and others prayed for peace at a memorial cenotaph in the village. The names of the victims are inscribed on the cenotaph, called the Tower of Peace.

A man in his 50s whose grandmother died in a mass suicide said war is foolish and doesn't make anyone happy. He said what the village experienced must not be forgotten and should be passed on from generation to generation.

The man's 14-year-old son said dialogue should be promoted so that there will be no more war.

Zamami Village faces the challenge of conveying the history to future generations as war survivors are aging.
Village officials say few people remain who can talk about their experiences in the war.