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Kishida, Onodera set to attend Okinawa memorial service

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The foreign and defense ministers will attend the annual June 23 memorial day service in Okinawa for the first time since it began in 1952, government officials said Wednesday.

The ceremony for the war dead is held in Itoman to commemorate the end of the World War II Battle of Okinawa, in which about 94,000 civilians, 94,000 Japanese combatants and 12,520 U.S. service members died, according to the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum.

In the past, the prime minister and health minister have attended the ceremony, but this time Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera are likely to attend as well, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga mentioned.

“We’d like to have (them) attend if conditions permit,” he said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apparently is trying to win points with Okinawa as the central government tries to fulfill a U.S.-Japanese accord to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Base Futenma in Ginowan with a planned new airstrip farther north in Nago.