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Residents in Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday prayed for those who died in the Battle of Okinawa, on the 76th anniversary of the end of the grueling ground battle in the late stages of World War II.

At a memorial ceremony sponsored by the Okinawa Prefectural Government, some 30 participants, including family members of the war dead, mourned for the victims and prayed for peace.

During the service, held at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki vowed to make incessant efforts toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, the renunciation of war and lasting peace.

“I hope a circle (for achieving the aims) will connect Okinawa with the world,” he said in a peace declaration.

Referring to the planned relocation within the prefecture of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air station in a residential area of Ginowan to the Henoko coastal area in Nago, Tamaki said, “I request the Japanese and U.S. governments to resolve Okinawa’s excessive base-hosting burden in a visible way, without being constrained by the idea that building a new base in Henoko is the only solution” to issues related to the Futenma base.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in a video message, “We should take to heart Okinawa’s deep wounds that can never heal and never forget them.”

“Under the policy of doing everything possible, I’m resolved to achieve results one by one in order to reduce Okinawa’s burden of hosting (U.S.) bases,” Suga stressed.

Miharu Uehara, 13, a second-grade junior high school student from the city of Miyakojima in the prefecture, read out a poem she made, calling on people to be thankful for ordinary everyday life and create a peaceful world.

Usually, around 5,000 people take part in the annual memorial ceremony. But as part of measures for preventing the spread of novel coronavirus infections, the number of participants in the latest event was reduced further from 161 last year, with no guests invited from outside the prefecture.

On the Cornerstone of Peace, a monument in the memorial park, located in Itoman’s Mabuni district, the names of 41 victims were newly inscribed this year, bringing the total number of inscribed names, including those of military personnel and civilians regardless of nationality, to 241,632.

Mabuni was the battlefield of the last fierce fighting during the Battle of Okinawa.

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