Kuentai-USA, in collaboration with CNMI officials, hosted the fourth annual memorial blessing at the Aqua Resort Club parking area last Saturday to honor the burial sites of Japanese and American soldiers who were killed during the Battle of Saipan.
Among those in attendance were Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, Bishop Ryan Jimenez, and Japanese Consul Ono Kazuhiko.
Apatang believes that the future generations of the CNMI must be entrusted to understand the meaning of life and to respect differences. “We must continue to promote peace among future generations,” Apatang said.
Ono, who has just been assigned to the CNMI, learned about the Battles of Saipan and Tinian, and he was curious about the presence of many accomplished officers on Saipan. He was also pleased to hear the compliments of CNMI officials about their respect of the Japanese tradition and prayers for peace for both the CNMI and Japan.
“I hope that this memorial service will continue for many years to come,” he added.
Jimenez recognizes that differences in faith does not hinder one’s respect for the dead. “One thing that binds us together is our respect for the dead,” Jimenez said.
The blessing was hosted by a combination of Shinto and Buddhist monks. In total, there were five Shinto priests and three Buddhist monks.
The ceremony held the two different religions’ form of blessing the dead, while also incorporating the audience to participate in the rituals and prayers; they invited the audience to offer the incenses for the dead.
Kuentai-USA is a non-profit organization created by Kuentai-Japan, a group that locates the remains of past Japanese soldiers. When the group locates the remains of fallen U.S. soldiers, they deliver the remains back to the U.S. Their mission is “to repatriate as many, and as quickly as possible before it gets too late.”
The group reports that a total of 4,110 American troops were killed during the Battle of Saipan, with 510 being considered as “missing in action” and 71 being considered “unknown,” meaning the remains have no means of identification.