Residents of Okinawa Prefecture mourned victims of the fierce ground battle in the final phase of World War II 78 years ago, in a ceremony that took place at a memorial park in the city of Itoman Friday.

Participants in the ceremony hosted by the prefectural government observed a minute of silence for the over 200,000 victims and renewed a pledge to pursue peace and pass on the lessons learned from the tragedy to the next generation.

In a peace declaration, Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki said the prefecture hosts some 70% of U.S. military bases in Japan and that this is "causing various impacts on the lives of residents."

He demanded that the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement that governs the U.S. military presence in the country be overhauled drastically and that a plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa be scrapped.

Tamaki also expressed displeasure with the government's plan to deploy long-range missiles in Okinawa as part of an effort to acquire counterattack capabilities. The plan "reminds residents of the fierce ground battle and is creating great anxiety among them," he said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech that his government will work hard to promote Okinawa's economy. He reiterated the government's commitment to reducing Okinawa's burden in hosting U.S. military bases, saying, "We're taking the heavy burdens seriously."

Aki Heianna, a 17-year-old high school student, recited a poem about peace.

The organized battle in Okinawa is said to have ended on June 23, 1945, with the suicide of the local commander of the now-defunct Japanese Imperial Army.

This year, the names of 365 people were added to the list of victims of the battle inscribed on stone monuments at the park in the district of Mabuni, bringing the total to 242,046.