"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 73rd Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa

[Date] June 23, 2018
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

As we conduct this Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 73rd Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa, I wish to express my heartfelt mourning for the souls of those who perished on the battlefields as well as those who died suffering the ravages of war during the Battle of Okinawa.

During World War II, Okinawa was the scene of an exceedingly fierce ground battle. Two hundred thousand precious lives were tragically lost and Okinawa’s bountiful seas and greenery, both sources of great pride, were destroyed, with the land reduced to ashes. Among those who perished were young people full of dreams and aspirations and mothers and fathers who died wishing for the safety of their children. I am overcome with emotion as I think of the regret of all the fallen whose names are engraved on the Cornerstone of Peace.

The peace and prosperity we now enjoy rests atop the hardship that is beyond description and the deep and never-ending sadness experienced by the people of Okinawa. I bow my head silently, reflecting solemnly on this fact.

Since the end of the war, Japan has consistently and earnestly walked the path of a nation that values peace. I vow once more to the souls here that we will be tireless in our efforts to carry out our resolute commitment never to repeat the horrors of war and to realize a world in which all people can live in a spiritually rich manner.

For many years, the concentration of US military bases has heavily impacted the people of Okinawa. The current situation absolutely must be changed. In order to lessen the impact of the U.S. forces, the government is determined to deliver results one by one in a steady manner.

This March, the return of the site of the West Futenma Housing Area south of Kadena Air Base took place and efforts to make use of the site are moving forward. We will continue to make every effort to mitigate impact on Okinawa under the principle of "doing everything possible."

Okinawa is now achieving dramatic development by making use of its stunning natural beauty as well as its geographical characteristic of being situated in the very heart of East Asia. Last year, the number of tourists visiting Okinawa Prefecture surpassed the number visiting Hawaii. Okinawa is now poised to assume a position of “The Bridge of Nations” -- a bridge to the world -- which is how the Ryukyu Islands were regarded in the great trading era of years gone by. I feel acutely that as a gateway connecting Japan with the rest of Asia, Okinawa has truly been helping to drive the overall growth of Japan. In order to accelerate this trend further, I will lead the efforts to advance the development of Okinawa still more.

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.

Shinzo Abe

Prime Minister of Japan

June 23, 2018