"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 70th Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa

[Date] June 23, 2015
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

This year, 70 years since the end of the Second World War, at the opening of this Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 70th Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa, I wish to convey my feelings of sincere mourning for the souls of those who perished on the battlefields, and for the souls of those who died suffering the ravages of war during the Battle of Okinawa.

Okinawa was the site of the largest ground battle on Japanese territory during World War II. The quiet life of the people of Okinawa Prefecture was transformed into scenes of carnage and the bountiful seas and greenery destroyed, with 200,000 precious lives lost. Young people filled with dreams and aspirations fell in battle, and mothers and fathers lost their lives wishing for the safety of their children. Many of the fallen whose names are engraved on the Cornerstone of Peace died while worrying about the fate of their families, and when I think of these people who so regrettably perished it pains me greatly.

We must have this anguishing history etched deeply into our hearts and continually give it profound consideration. This must be an ongoing endeavor. On this occasion, we ponder once more the fact that we who are alive at this moment enjoy peace, security, freedom, and prosperity by way of a history of indescribable hardship on Okinawa.

Today, as we mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, I would now like to join with all the Japanese people in closing our eyes and thinking, with heads bowed in silence and grief in our hearts, of the unspeakably enormous noble sacrifices that Okinawa endured, and the blood and tears shed by those who perished on Okinawan soil.

I believe that while doing so, we must also feel proud of how we have earnestly walked the path of peace in abhorrence of war over the intervening 70 years. We must also continue making tireless efforts toward achieving international peace.

Blessed with beautiful natural scenery and a rich culture, Okinawa is a gateway connecting Japan with the rest of Asia. It is also becoming a new hub of innovation and other endeavors. By fully harnessing its great advantages and unbounded potential, Okinawa is poised to achieve dramatic development. The development of Okinawa is helping to drive the overall growth of Japan, and I will stand at the forefront as we advance Okinawa's development further. For many long years, the needs of national security have placed a heavy burden on the people of Okinawa, with the concentration of U.S. military bases being a case in point. The return of the West Futenma Housing Area was implemented at the end of March, and I will continue doing my utmost to alleviate the burden that the bases place on Okinawa.

I will conclude my address by praying that the souls of those who lost their lives here may rest in peace and by offering my sincere wishes for the peace of the bereaved families of the war dead.

June 23, 2015

Shinzo Abe

Prime Minister of Japan