On June 23, Okinawa commemorated “Irei no Hi [Okinawa Memorial Day]” by praying for the more than 200,000 people who were killed in the grueling land battles involving local residents in Okinawa during World War II. The Okinawa Memorial Service for All War Dead was held (sponsored by Okinawa Prefecture and Okinawa Prefectural Assembly) at Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni, Itoman City, which was the site of fierce combat in the final days of the Battle of Okinawa. Governor Tamaki Denny, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, and other distinguished guests attended and prayed for the souls of those who lost their lives.
At the ceremony, a message from U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel was read aloud. Referring to the Battle of Okinawa, Ambassador Emanuel said, “In the end, over 240,000 lives were lost, nearly half of them Okinawan civilians, including children. Today, on Irei no Hi, we commemorate the end of the Battle of Okinawa in solemn recognition of those who perished.”
In his message, the Ambassador also mentioned his visit to Peace Memorial Park in April during his trip to Okinawa. “The grim images of war on display at the museum and the many victims’ names etched into the Cornerstone of Peace serve as stark reminders to all of us of the human cost of war. I join you in silent prayer for those who lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa.” (Abridged)