Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Friday visited a cenotaph and museum in Naha, Okinawa, commemorating the 1,482 people who died when an American submarine torpedoed a Japanese passenger ship during World War II. Half the victims were school children.

The Imperial couple placed bouquets at the "Kozakura-no-to" cenotaph and later visited the neighboring Tsushima Maru Memorial Museum and talked with survivors and relatives of those who died. The couple looked at photos and a display of personal effects, including pencil boxes, notebooks and school bags.

Almost 70 years ago, on Aug. 22, 1944, the U.S. submarine Bowfin sank the 6,754-ton Tsushima Maru in waters near Akuseki Island in the East China Sea. The ship was taking 1,788 people from Okinawa Island to Nagasaki Prefecture, many of them school children under evacuation.