Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will attend a war memorial service this weekend in Okinawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Wednesday.
Koizumi’s Sunday visit to Okinawa comes amid local concerns about his apparent promilitary policy.
Sunday marks the 57th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the only ground battle fought on Japanese soil during World War II.
Koizumi will give an address at the memorial service to be held by the prefectural government. Last month, he attended a ceremony in Okinawa to mark the 30th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese control in 1972, after 27 years of U.S. rule.
Also in attendance will be Koji Omi, state minister in charge of Okinawa affairs, welfare minister Chikara Sakaguchi, House of Representatives Speaker Tamisuke Watanuki and House of Councilors President Hiroyuki Kurata.
June 23 is a holiday in the prefecture to commemorate the end of the battle.
Koizumi’s visit comes after his administration submitted in April the country’s first package of bills aimed at allowing the government to implement various measures to respond to military attacks.
Measures planned under the envisioned legislation include some that possibly infringe on human rights, as the Self-Defense Forces’ activities would take priority in such emergencies.
Some Okinawans recall stories of Japanese soldiers using locals as human shields during the 1945 battle with the U.S. forces and are closely watching the fate of the bills, which are now stalled in the Diet.
Lawmakers in the opposition camp as well as some in Koizumi’s ruling bloc are opposing the set of bills or questioning them because many crucial issues, including the definition of an emergency, are not clarified.
Also, many leaders of local municipalities are complaining that it is unclear what they would be required to do in carrying out central government orders under the envisioned attack-response legislation.
Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine has demanded the central government step up debate in the Diet about the role of the U.S. military in such emergencies, a request that Okinawa claims goes almost unheard.
Okinawa represents only 0.6 percent of Japan’s territory but accounts for 75 percent of the land occupied by U.S forces in Japan.
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