"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 KISHIDA Fumio for the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 78th Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa

[Date] June 23, 2023
[Source] Prime Minister's Office of Japan
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

As we conduct this Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 78th 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 a dreadful ground battle, with some 200,000 people losing their precious lives. Okinawa's beautiful sea and forests, as well as Shurijo Castle and other cultural heritages, were mercilessly destroyed.

This year, additional 365 names have been engraved on the Cornerstone of Peace. When I think of the regret of each of the war dead whose names are engraved on the Cornerstone of Peace, and the grief and sense of loss felt by their bereaved families, I cannot help but feel a deep sadness.

The peace and prosperity we now enjoy have been built upon the precious lives of the victims and the Okinawa's history of hardships.

Marking 78 years since the Battle of Okinawa with this memory deeply etched into our hearts, we bow our heads in silence with a strong determination never to repeat the horrors of the war.

Last year, as we reached the 50th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan, our renewed effort was initiated to promote and develop Okinawa on the basis of the revised Act on Special Measures for the Promotion and Development of Okinawa.

Thanks to the tireless efforts made by the people of Okinawa to date, Okinawa's economy has achieved steady growth and the lives of its residents have significantly improved. However, there still remain issues such as how to improve per capita income and eliminate child poverty, as well as new challenges regarding the recovery of the tourism industry from the COVID-19 pandemic and measures against soaring prices, among other things.

Okinawa has unique charms and advantages, including its rich subtropical nature and cosmopolitan culture and traditions. Making the best use of these features, we will continue to make steady efforts to promote and develop Okinawa as a national strategy to realize a strong Okinawan economy by resolving issues one by one.

And even now, the concentration of U.S. military bases heavily impacts the people of Okinawa. The Government takes this very seriously.

We will continue to make utmost efforts to mitigate the impact of U.S. forces on Okinawa by working on the realignment, consolidation and reduction of facilities and areas of U.S. forces in Japan with a view to steadily achieving visible results one by one, such as the return of the former West Futenma Housing Area.

Since the end of World War II, Japan has consistently pursued its course as a peaceful nation, striving to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world. As we face the most severe and complex security environment surrounding Japan in the postwar era, I vow once again to the souls here that we will stay the course and make tireless efforts to realize a world in which all people on the globe can live in a peaceful and spiritually rich manner.

I conclude my address by sincerely praying that the souls here may rest in peace and that peace may be brought to the bereaved families.