Joint memorial held on Iwo Jima island for Japanese and US war dead

A joint memorial ceremony was held on the Japanese island of Ioto for soldiers who died fighting there 79 years ago during World War Two.

Groups from Japan and the United States came together on the Pacific island commonly known as Iwo Jima.

Fierce battles were fought on the island in February and March of 1945. An estimated 21,900 Japanese troops and approximately 6,800 US servicemen were killed in the fighting.

About 170 bereaved families and government officials from Japan and the United States attended this year's ceremony held on Saturday.

Teramoto Tetsuro heads a group of families of soldiers who died on the island.
He told the assembly that as time passes the memories of fierce battles on the island have gradually been fading.

Teramoto said the families have a responsibility and duty to pass on to younger generations the stories of the fighting so that such a tragic war will never be repeated.

Also speaking was David Bice, who represented the Iwo Jima Association of America. He said the devoted and brave soldiers from the two countries will never be forgotten.

Bice said the reconciliation they witnessed on this day is the enduring foundation of historic friendship between the United States and Japan.

The participants then offered flowers and observed a moment of silence for the war dead.
They also visited the underground dugout, and the hill known as Suribachiyama, the site of a fierce battle.