Conflicts & War

Okinawa calls for fewer US bases on anniversary of bloody battle

Tokyo, June 23 (EFE).- Okinawa on Friday called for fewer US bases in the archipelago on the 78th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II with more than 200,000 deaths, half of them civilians.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki took part in the commemorative ceremony of the Battle of Okinawa that was held at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, a city in the south of Okinawa’s main island and where the battle ended.

In an address at the event, Kishida vowed to work for world peace while acknowledging that Japan was facing its toughest and most complicated security environment in the postwar period.

He also promised to do his utmost to reduce the burden on the prefecture, which hosts about 70 percent of the US bases in the country, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The anniversary comes after Japan established a Ground Self-Defense Force camp on Ishigaki Island in March amid rising tensions over Taiwan.

The measure drew criticism and concern from the local population fearing that it would lead to the archipelago becoming the scene of a new battle.

The Battle of Okinawa was the only land invasion of the US in Japan during World War II.

It occurred a few months before Japan’s unconditional surrender a few days after the nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The bloody battle lasted three months and claimed the lives of a quarter of Okinawa’s civilian population, some 94,000 in all.

Local authorities often use this anniversary to highlight the heavy burden this small archipelago continues to bear of hosting US military bases.

The bases, which occupy a fifth of the land on the main island, were built on land seized during the US occupation that lasted until 1972, two decades longer than in the rest of the Asian country. EFE


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