Dignitaries, families, protesters gather to commemorate Battle of Okinawa’s 74th anniversary
ITOMAN, Okinawa — Despite the heavy rain Sunday morning, thousands of visitors, including Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, U.S. and Japan government and military officials and family members of the deceased marked 74 years since the end of the Battle of Okinawa.
The annual Irei no Hi ceremony, held at the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park on the anniversary of the day fighting ended on Okinawa in 1945, serves as a tribute to the 12,520 American servicemembers, 110,000 Japanese troops and 140,000 Okinawan noncombatants who lost their lives, although the exact total number of civilian casualties may never be known.
The World War II battle lasted 82 days, but left behind deep feelings and remnants of war. During portions of the ceremony, particularly during Abe’s speech, protestors shouted their opposition to the continued U.S. military presence on the island.
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