Kennedy to visit Okinawa, mark WWII

Kyodo

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy will attend a memorial ceremony in Okinawa Prefecture on June 23 to commemorate the victims of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.

It will be the second visit to Okinawa by Kennedy, who became the U.S. envoy last November. She first visited Okinawa in February.

Last year, her predecessor John Roos attended the ceremony in the first such visit by a U.S. ambassador since Walter Mondale in 1995.

A U.S. ambassador’s participation in the annual ceremony for the second straight year suggests Washington is trying to ease friction stemming from the planned relocation of a U.S. military base in the prefecture and build confidence with local residents.

This year marks the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa, which claimed more than 200,000 lives, including those of 12,000 U.S. servicemen. A memorial service for the war dead will take place at the Peace Memorial Park in the city of Itoman, the site of the final stage of the battle.