Irei no hi 2020

Tomorrow (23rd June) is a public holiday in Okinawa known as Irei no hi. This is the day every year when the end of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 is commemorated. Ceremonies are held around the islands to remember those who died in a battle that raged for nearly three months on Okinawa causing misery and devastation and claiming more than 240,000 lives.

This year is especially important as it is the 75th anniversary but, because of the current coronavirus situation, the main ceremony at Okinawa Peace Memorial Park in Itoman has been scaled down. It will not be open to the public but only to around 200 invited guests, including of course Okinawa’s Governor Denny Tamaki. There will be video messages from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and from a representative of the United Nations.

The Cornerstone of Peace at Okinawa Peace Memorial Park where tomorrow’s ceremony will take place.

The ceremony is annually attended by Japan’s Prime Minister, but this year Shinzo Abe will not be coming. No doubt this will be a relief for him as his attendance is always controversial and usually provokes some protests and heckling of his speech despite very tight security.

It is already five years since Okinawa’s previous Governor, the late Takeshi Onaga, spoke these words at the ceremony, but they are just as relevant today:

“We cannot establish a foundation of peace unless the central government impartially guarantees freedom, equality, human rights and democracy to the people. I strongly urge the national government to break with its fixed ideas, decide to stop the work to relocate Futenma to Henoko, and review once again its policies to reduce the base hosting burden shouldered by Okinawa.”

As ever, Japan’s government continues to ignore the democratic wishes of the Okinawan people and has recently restarted landfill work aimed at the construction of the new American military base at Henoko.

Tomorrow’s ceremony in Itoman begins at 11:55 and will be televised live as usual in Okinawa.

Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Life

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