Okinawa, Japan pushes US to draw down base presence 77 years after battle’s end, FOX News : World.
Okinawa marked the 77th anniversary Thursday of the end of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, with the governor calling for a further reduction of the U.S. military presence there as local fears grow that the southern Japanese islands will become embroiled in regional military tension.
The Battle of Okinawa killed about 200,000 people, nearly half of them Okinawan residents. Japan’s wartime military, in an attempt to delay a U.S. landing on the main islands, essentially sacrificed the local population.
Many in Okinawa are worried about the growing deployment of Japanese missile defense and amphibious capabilities on outer islands that are close to geopolitical hotspots like Taiwan.
At a ceremony marking the June 23, 1945, end of the battle, about 300 attendants in Okinawa, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other officials, offered a moment of silence at noon and placed chrysanthemums for the war dead. The number of attendants was scaled down because of coronavirus worries.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, offers a silent prayer during a ceremony at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Okinawa, southern Japan Thursday, June 23, 2022. Japan marked the Battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II fought on the southern Japanese island, which ended 77 years ago, Thursday. (Kyodo News via AP)
At the ceremony in Itoman city on Okinawa’s main island, Gov. Denny Tamaki spoke of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying the destruction of towns, buildings and the local culture, as well as Ukrainians’ constant fear, “remind us of our memory of the ground battle on Okinawa that embroiled citizens 77 years ago.”
Today, a majority of the 50,000 U.S. troops based in Japan under a bilateral security pact and 70% of U.S. military facilities are still in Okinawa, which accounts for only 0.6% of Japanese land.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offers a bouquet of flowers in front of a memorial at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Okinawa, southern Japan Thursday, June 23, 2022. Japan marked the Battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II fought on the southern Japanese island, which ended 77 years ago, Thursday. (Kyodo News via AP)