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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Address by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 67th Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

At the opening of the 2012 Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa, I would like to express my feelings of sincere mourning for the souls of the war dead.

Among the sinful wars that humankind has waged, the Battle of Okinawa is said to have been one of the most relentless and gruesome conflicts. Here, in the early summer season, sixty-seven years have now passed since that battle took place.

When we speak of our thoughts of commemoration for the war dead, it is necessary to first evoke in our hearts a sense of the tragedy of those days of battle. The blue ocean and azure sky were blackened by the fleets of military vessels and bomber aircraft, which constantly rent the air with flashes of light and explosions day and night. Tens of thousands of residents found themselves tossed into this maelstrom of war and many precious lives were lost.

How is it that in the flames of war, which is something that humans bring about of their own volition, the dignity of human life is so cruelly trampled? How do humans lose their humanity? So many indescribable events occurred here that remind us of such questions. We Japanese must never forget the tragic history that has been wreaked on the beautiful lands of Okinawa.

Sixty-seven years have now passed since the end of the war and 40 years since Okinawa's reversion to Japan. During those years, the people of Okinawa have made tireless efforts, overcoming countless hardships and difficulties, to realize dynamic and robust development.

When I think back on the history of Okinawa's plight, I am always reminded of the last words of Admiral Minoru Ota.

"This is how the Okinawa people have fought the war. And for this reason, I ask that you give the Okinawan people special consideration, this day forward." This heartbreaking request, almost like a prayer, is how the admiral signed off his final telegram.

There is also something we must constantly ask ourselves. Namely, have all the people of Japan, truly made every effort to share and understand the thoughts of the people of Okinawa?

To ensure that the tragedy of war is never repeated, making the utmost effort to ensure the nation's security is the responsibility of those who are entrusted with national administration. This responsibility is one that we can neither ignore nor shirk, even for an instant.

On the other hand, the fact that even today United States bases are concentrated in Okinawa and that they have placed such a heavy burden over long years on the people of the prefecture is a source of deep regret. I reaffirm my pledge to make every effort to reduce the burden of the bases in the near term, and achieve specific and visible progress with regard to this issue.

The peace and prosperity of present-day Japan has been built upon the noble sacrifices of the war dead. Japan vows to uphold its pledge not to engage in war, as we remember the heartbreak of those who fell in the war, having no opportunity but to entrust the future of our homeland to the next generation. Furthermore, as a member of the international community, Japan will pursue unceasingly the realization of international peace.

I conclude my remarks by praying that the souls of those who lost their lives here may rest in peace and by offering my sincere wishes for the happiness of the bereaved families of the war dead.

June 23, 2011
Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan


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