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Japan gov't vows to rebuild Okinawa's Shuri Castle in wake of devastating fire

A firefighter is seen amid the ruins of Shuri Castle in the Okinawa Prefecture capital of Naha, on Oct. 31, 2019. (Mainichi/Michiko Morizono)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government will do its best to rebuild the World Heritage-listed Shuri Castle in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, after the historical landmark including its main hall burned down early on Oct. 31, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

"It is part of the Okinawa Commemorative National Government Park. The government will do its best to rebuild the castle," Suga told a news conference on the morning of Oct. 31. He added that the cause of the fire is being investigated.

The castle complex, restored after World War II, "is situated on the site of the original Shuri Castle, which was listed in 2000 as a World Heritage site. We recognize it's an extremely important symbol of Okinawa," Suga said. "I express my sympathy to residents of Okinawa Prefecture from the bottom my heart. The incident is heartbreaking."

Shuri Castle in Naha, capital of Japan's southernmost prefecture, was built as the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It was destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, in the closing months of World War II. It was restored and opened to the public as part of the Okinawa Commemorative National Government Park in 1992 to mark the 20th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan from the postwar U.S. occupation.

(Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama, Political News Department)

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