Address by Prime Minister Kishida for the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 79th Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa

June 23, 2024

[Provisional translation]


As we conduct this Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 79th Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa, I wish to express my heartfelt mourning for the souls of those who perished on the battlefields as well as those who died suffering the ravages of war during the Battle of Okinawa.
During World War II, Okinawa was the scene of a dreadful ground battle, with the peaceful lives of the people suddenly caught in the crossfire, claiming the precious lives of 200,000 people, including innocent civilians, and destroying Okinawa’s beautiful sea and forests, as well as its affluent cultural heritages. Efforts for unexploded ordnance clearance and the collection of remains of Japanese war dead are still under way. We also remember the tragic Tsushima Maru incident, in which a great number of children’s lives were lost. It is our responsibility to hand down to the next generation such lamentable realities of the Battle of Okinawa and the value of peace.
This year, additional 181 names have been engraved on the Cornerstone of Peace. When I think of the regret of each of the war dead whose names are engraved on the Cornerstone of Peace, and the grief and sense of loss felt by their bereaved families, I cannot help but feel a deep sadness.
The peace and prosperity we now enjoy have been built upon the precious lives of the victims and Okinawa’s history of hardships beyond all description. With this conviction deeply etched into our hearts, we bow our heads in silence.
Next year marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa. Thanks to the tireless efforts made by the people of Okinawa to date, Okinawa’s economy has achieved steady growth and the lives of its residents have significantly improved.
Okinawa boasts its beautiful nature, geographical location at the gateway to Asia and cosmopolitan culture and traditions. Taking advantage of such unique charms and advantages, we will make comprehensive efforts to promote and develop Okinawa as a national strategy, toward the realization of a strong Okinawan economy.
On the other hand, the residents of Okinawa face the heavy impact of the concentration of U.S. military bases, among other things. Taking this very seriously, the Government will make its utmost efforts to mitigate the impact.
In spring next year, we will set up on the site vacated by the former West Futenma Housing Area, a base for health and medical care aimed at expanding high-level medical treatment and research functions and improving local medical care, as a precedent model for the use of former base sites in the future.
We will continue to work on the realignment, consolidation and reduction of facilities and areas of U.S. forces in Japan, with a view to steadily achieving visible results one by one.
Since the end of World War II, Japan has consistently pursued its course as a peaceful nation. Strongly determined never to repeat the horror of war, we will strive to realize a world in which all people on the globe can live in a peaceful and spiritually rich manner. I vow once again to the souls here that this determination will be fully maintained and be handed down to future generations.
I conclude my address by sincerely praying that the souls here may rest in peace and that peace may be brought to the bereaved families.

Prime Minister of Japan
June 23, 2024

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