Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday he will attend a memorial service June 23 for those who died during the Battle of Okinawa, in the closing stages of World War II.

He was responding to a suggestion made at a House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting by Kantoku Teruya, an independent belonging to the Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary bloc. Teruya said that Koizumi should attend the service given that he plans to make a controversial visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, a memorial to Japan’s war dead, on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender.

The annual service is held at the Cornerstone of Peace monument, Peace Memorial Park, in Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture. The monument is engraved with the names of 278,000 victims of the battle, including U.S. and South Korean nationals. The Battle of Okinawa was the only ground battle fought on Japanese soil during the war.

Koizumi has said he will visit Yasukuni Shrine in his capacity as prime minister on Aug. 15, regardless of whether it draws criticism from other countries.

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