Families of Japanese military men during World War II gathered yesterday to remember their fallen at the Okinawa Peace Memorial in Marpi.
A second group also held the same ceremony over the weekend on Tinian.
The two islands, according to Japanese Consul Kinji Shinoda, played significant roles during the six-year war, also known as the deadliest conflict in human history. Japanese civilian and military casualties are estimated to have amounted to about 3 million.
“Many [members of the Japan War Bereaved Families Association] are the sons, daughters, and even grandchildren [of the soldiers],” Shinoda.
He noted that the association reaches out every year to those interested in attending the annual ceremony.
“Not many people understand. This kind of memorial service is important. Too many Japanese people lost their lives on Saipan and Tinian, but the younger generation do not know much about that,” he said.
The delegation on Saipan, led by Tahara Masanobu, noted in a roughly translated speech that Japan is grateful to their fallen soldiers during the war because the country now enjoys peaceful times. He asked that the spirits of the soldiers to continue to protect and guide those that live today in order to maintain peace in Japan.
The Marianas Visitors Authority provided logistical support to the association.
“We offer our sincere condolences to those who lost loved ones in the war and will continue to pray for peace. Memorial groups have always been stable and reliable visitors to the CNMI for decades, and we will continue to support them as they make their journey to the CNMI year after year,” said MVA managing director Chris Concepcion.