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The Defense Agency is planning to construct a park in Tokyo to commemorate members of the Self-Defense Forces killed in the line of duty, agency officials said Sunday.

The plan involves the construction of a stone-paved square and street, and the relocation of an existing monument on the agency premises in Tokyo’s Ichigaya district that commemorates 1,707 martyrs, the officials said.

The agency plans to request 600 million yen for the project in its funding request for the state budget for fiscal 2002, they said.

The envisaged “memorial zone” would be built on agency land in Ichigaya and provide the government a place to hold memorial services for the deceased and for foreign officials to offer flowers.

A senior agency official stressed that the park will be different from Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine or a proposed state cemetery to honor the war dead, because it will simply honor SDF officers who were killed while on duty and whose deaths have not been fully acknowledged.

The agency hopes to complete construction on the main part of the park before a government memorial service for the dead is held next fall.

The current monument, erected in 1980, is in a poor location because bereaved relatives who come to pay tribute to their lost ones often become mired in mud when it rains, the agency officials said.

The agency began considering building a memorial park after former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori instructed the agency last fall to do more to assist the bereaved families of the martyrs.

Under the plan, the agency plans to build the stone-paved 900-sq.-meter square and a 100-meter access road that will enable them to hold events.

It also plans to build rest rooms in the park, which would be surrounded by grass, the agency officials added.

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