TOKYO (Xinhua) — Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga reiterated his calls for reduction of U.S. base burdens while the island prefecture marked on Saturday the 73rd anniversary of the end of a fierce World War II ground battle in 1945.
In his remarks at a memorial ceremony, Onaga, citing the easing geopolitical situation following the summit between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States, called again for reduction of U.S. forces in the island prefecture.
“Developments toward detente have begun,” he reportedly said, adding that the ongoing plan of the Japanese government to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma base within the southwestern prefecture is “against the trend.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for his part, said after attending the ceremony that the government will stick to the plan of relocating the U.S. base to the coastal area of Henoko which will help “significantly improve safety.”
The Battle of Okinawa began in the Spring of 1945, when U.S. forces landed on the island. Overall, more than 200,000 people were killed in the three-month battle, including civilians and Japanese and U.S. troops.
Okinawa held a memorial ceremony on June 23 every year since then, marking the closure of the battle. Some 5,100 people, including relatives of war victims as well as government officials, attended the ceremony this year.
Okinawa hosts some 75 percent of U.S. bases in Japan while accounting for only 0.6 percent of the country’s total land mass.
People in Okinawa have persistently called for removal of the basses due to safety concerns as well as repeated criminal cases involving U.S. military men.