Last Updated : GMT 17:44:37
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Tensions flare in Okinawa on 70th anniversary of battle

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Tensions flare in Okinawa on 70th anniversary of battle

People pray in front of an altar after a memorial service
Itoman - AFP

Japan's premier Shinzo Abe was heckled Tuesday at a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, as anger flared over the US military's continuing presence.

In a highly charged ceremony on Okinawa, Abe was shouted at by locals angry at the size of the United States' presence on the subtropical islands.

Cries of "Go home!" could be heard as he took the podium. It is relatively unusual for a Japanese prime minister to be jeered by the public.

Abe, who appeared rattled, told the audience Japan had for decades enjoyed the dividend of peace after the horrors of World War II.

"People in Okinawa have long been asked to carry a big burden for our security," he said. "We will continue to do our best to reduce (it)."

Governor Takeshi Onaga was warmly applauded by the 5,000-strong crowd after using his speech to denounce "the heavy burden" of American bases in Okinawa, host to more than half of the 47,000 US service personnel in Japan.

"Seventy-three-point-eight percent of US military facilities (in Japan) are still concentrated in our prefecture, which makes up only 0.6 percent of the country's land area," he said.

The ceremony took place in Itoman, at the southern tip of Okinawa, near the spot where terrified islanders had jumped from cliffs or were pushed to their deaths in June 1945 on the orders of Imperial Army soldiers taught never to surrender.

Thousands of visitors, many of them survivors of the war, filed past black marble monuments inscribed with the names of the fallen, to pray and leave flowers.

More than 100,000 Okinawans and 80,000 Japanese troops died in the 82-day battle for the strategically placed island chain.

"It was innocent civilians who suffered," survivor Takeko Kakazu, 97, told AFP. "Seventy years have passed but the cruelty of the war stays with me."

"We fled south from Naha (the capital of Okinawa), but there were no caves left to hide in," added Kakazu, who was pregnant at the time and gave birth on an American warship after being caught.

"The bombs kept dropping and we had to hide under trees. It was dreadful."

- Entire families lost -

Over 12,000 American soldiers also perished in what many had feared was a foretaste of the fight they would have to wage for the Japanese mainland.

That invasion never came, partly because of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with a cowed Japan surrendering in August 1945.

Entire families were wiped out and almost everyone on the island lost at least one relative.

As well as those who committed suicide by plunging off cliffs rather than surrender, Americans found thousands more locals dead in caves where they had been hiding to escape the furious US bombardment.

The war anniversary comes with feelings running high on Okinawa -- a one-time independent kingdom annexed by Japan in the 19th century.

A controversial plan to move a US air base from a crowded urban area to the rural spot of Henoko on the coast is proving deeply unpopular, with many wanting it to be put somewhere else altogether.

"We strongly demand that the government cancel construction [at] Henoko and review its policies of reducing Okinawa's base burden once again," Governor Onaga said Tuesday.

However, Tokyo and Washington have both insisted that the plan to move it -- conceived two decades ago -- is the only viable option for shutting down Futenma Air Station.

Renewed local opposition to the proposal and a series of angry protests have coincided with a push by Abe's nationalist government to give Japan's well-resourced, but tightly restricted, military more leeway to act internationally.

Critics say the move runs counter to the country's pacifist constitution, which was imposed by US occupiers in the aftermath of WWII, but has since been adopted as an article of faith by many Japanese.

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today tensions flare in okinawa on 70th anniversary of battle Arab Today, arab today tensions flare in okinawa on 70th anniversary of battle


Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Adidas Originals ‘reinterpreted’

GMT 14:52 2016 Thursday ,01 December

Adidas Originals ‘reinterpreted’
Arab Today, arab today Holiday magic is everywhere

GMT 13:04 2016 Saturday ,03 December

Holiday magic is everywhere
Arab Today, arab today Paris's matchbox apartments

GMT 10:37 2016 Saturday ,24 September

Paris's matchbox apartments
Arab Today, arab today As nearly 20,000 children flee Aleppo

GMT 07:50 2016 Saturday ,03 December

As nearly 20,000 children flee Aleppo
Arab Today, arab today What next after landmark

GMT 09:01 2016 Saturday ,03 December

What next after landmark

GMT 08:53 2016 Saturday ,03 December

Twelve new inscriptions to UNESCO's Representative List

GMT 14:42 2016 Friday ,02 December

Abu Dhabi organises the Safeguarding Endangered

GMT 01:30 2016 Wednesday ,30 November

Official denies 38 artifacts damaged at stores

GMT 05:17 2016 Tuesday ,29 November

Rare manuscripts found in Doha-bound consignment

GMT 00:23 2016 Monday ,28 November

Barn raising area in Sohag opened for first time
View News in Arabic - Culture: أخبار الثقافة والفنون
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Dino-killing crater shows clues

GMT 14:43 2016 Thursday ,24 November

Dino-killing crater shows clues
Arab Today, arab today For Yazidi women left behind

GMT 08:00 2016 Saturday ,03 December

For Yazidi women left behind
Arab Today, arab today Green groups pressure Spain

GMT 13:01 2016 Thursday ,01 December

Green groups pressure Spain
Arab Today, arab today Pluto's unruly moons

GMT 06:31 2015 Thursday ,04 June

Pluto's unruly moons
Arab Today, arab today Hyundai allows Saudi journalists

GMT 15:14 2016 Thursday ,01 December

Hyundai allows Saudi journalists
Arab Today, arab today Latest Infiniti QX to compete

GMT 13:16 2016 Saturday ,26 November

Latest Infiniti QX to compete
Arab Today, arab today Austria's race against time

GMT 11:44 2016 Thursday ,01 December

Austria's race against time
Arab Today, arab today Car manufacturers to power Europe

GMT 13:01 2016 Tuesday ,29 November

Car manufacturers to power Europe

GMT 12:45 2016 Tuesday ,29 November

To find German funny bone

GMT 13:52 2016 Monday ,28 November

Punk memorabilia torched

GMT 04:15 2016 Thursday ,30 June

World's largest uncut diamond fails

GMT 12:39 2016 Friday ,25 November

Arctic 9-12C above normal

GMT 15:59 2015 Wednesday ,27 May

Seoul elevates gardening to high art

GMT 12:39 2016 Saturday ,26 November

Skin patch could help kids

GMT 13:19 2016 Monday ,21 November

New nationalism stoking fears

GMT 13:12 2015 Saturday ,09 May

Sheikh Sultan opens Sharjah Centre

GMT 09:53 2016 Sunday ,15 May

OMEGA official timekeepers
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube

Powered and Developed by FilmMatters

Copyright © 2016 Arabtoday

Developed by FilmMatters

© 2016 Arabtoday

arabtoday arabtoday arabtoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabtoday, Arabtoday, Arabtoday