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77 years after the end of the battle, Okinawa wants to reduce US bases

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Mari Yamaguchi

TOKYO (AP) — Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki on Thursday at the end of the toughest World War II battle in the South Will celebrate its 77th anniversary. The islands are calling for a further reduction in the US military presence amid growing fears of being caught up in regional tensions.

The South Island Group is one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, known as the Battle of Okinawa, killing about 200,000 people and nearly half of them being Okinawans. did.

This is the only ground battle that fought on the Japanese lawn, an attempt by the Japanese to delay the US landing on the mainland at the expense of the people of Okinawa. Is remembered as.

At a ceremony commemorating the end of the battle on June 23, 1945, about 300 Okinawan attendees, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other officials, prayed silently at noon for the war. Dedicated a chrysanthemum flower. death. Concerns about the coronavirus have reduced the number of attendees.

At a peace declaration at a Thursday ceremony in Itoman, Okinawa Island, Tamaki compares the battle to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and lives in town, buildings, culture, and horror. Said the destruction of the Ukrainians. Recall the memory of the ground battle in Okinawa that involved the citizens 77 years ago. "

" We were in an indescribable shock, "he said.

Tamaki also vowed to continue his efforts to abolish nuclear weapons and abandon the war "to prevent Okinawa from becoming a battlefield."

In May, Okinawa celebrated its 50th anniversary after returning to Japan in 1972, 20 years after the occupation of the United States ended in most of the country.

Today, a majority of the 50,000 U.S. forces based in Japan under a bilateral security agreement and 70% of military installations are still in Okinawa, which is only 0.6% of Japan's land. Occupies.

Because Okinawa is a US military base, it faces the burden of noise, pollution, accidents, and US military-related crimes, Mr. Tamaki said.

Fumio Kishida needs government efforts to reduce the burden on Okinawa caused by the U.S. military base and at the same time further support the economic development of the island, which has fallen behind during the 27-year U.S. occupation. Admitted sex.

In Okinawa, for the lack of efforts to negotiate with Washington to balance the presence of the United States with the security burden between mainland Japan and the southern island groups. Resentment and frustration are deeply rooted.

In addition to Okinawa's concerns, Japan's missile defense and amphibious capabilities are underway on remote islands of Okinawa near geopolitical hotspots such as Taiwan.

Fumio Kishida includes the ability of the enemy to attack, which critics say will interfere because the security environment in the local waters is deteriorating in the face of threats from China, North Korea and Russia. , Japan's Peaceful Constitution, which promised to strengthen Japan's military power and budget over the next few years.

Kishida renewed his pledge on Thursday to maintain Japan's postwar efforts as a "peace-loving country."