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Memorial on eve of Battle of Okinawa anniversary reduced in scale amid infection spread

The "pillar of light for peace" made up of five blue beams is seeing reaching into the night sky, at Okinawa Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture, on June 22, 2021. (Mainichi/Yoshiyuki Hirakawa)

ITOMAN, Okinawa -- A scaled-down memorial service for those who died in the Battle of Okinawa -- one of the Pacific War's bloodiest conflicts -- was held on the night of June 22 at Okinawa Peace Memorial Park in this southern Japan city, before the official commemoration ceremony the following day.

    With a COVID-19 state of emergency declaration currently in effect across Okinawa Prefecture, participants in the annual event at Okinawa Peace Hall were limited only to those connected with its administration. Those who gathered prayed for the people who died 76 years ago, and for peace.

    The torch is seen being lit during the ceremony to commemorate those who died in the Battle of Okinawa held on the eve of the main event on the anniversary itself, in Okinawa Peace Memorial Park, Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture, on June 22, 2021. (Mainichi/Yoshiyuki Hirakawa)

    At the ceremony held the night before the official memorial, the peace bell tolls seven times to send prayers of peace across the seven seas. About 10 people including those affiliated with main organizer, the Okinawa Foundation, prayed in silence.

    At the park, the Cornerstone of Peace commemorates the lives of people from five countries and regions, including Japan and the U.S., who died in the conflict. To mourn them, five searchlights shone into the night sky as a "pillar of light for peace."

    (Japanese original by Keiko Yamaguchi, Kyushu News Department)

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