Japan's prime minister heckled and told to 'go home' during World War II memorial speech

Okinawans resent the presence of US troops on the island

Lucy Clarke-Billings
Tuesday 23 June 2015 12:34 BST
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Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (Getty)

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was heckled as he gave a speech to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa - one of World War II's bloodiest battles.

Reflecting the widespread local resentment at the US military presence on Okinawa, members of the audience shouted "go home" and "stop lying" as the prime minister took the stage.

Tensions flared as Abe, amid jeers from the crowd, said: "I will stand at the forefront to move forward the development of Okinawa. The people of Okinawa have carried the burden of concentration of the US bases for the sake of national security."

People put their hands together to pray at an altar at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman
People put their hands together to pray at an altar at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman (Getty)

Many Okinawans are not happy with the tens of thousands of US troops on the island and have complained about the soldiers' behaviour, the noise pollution and the dangers of an aircraft crash on the densely populated island.

The islands continue to house more than half of the 47,000 US troops in Japan.

Those in attendance at the ceremony also observed a moment of silence to remember the over 200,000 people who died in the Battle of Okinawa, which took place in the final months of World War II.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said the people of Okinawa 'have carried the burden' of US intervention
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said the people of Okinawa 'have carried the burden' of US intervention (Getty)

The 82-day battle resulted in a victory for the US-led Allied forces, which lost over 10,000 troops.

Around 80,000 Japanese soldiers also died, many of whom committed suicide by leaping off cliffs rather than surrender.

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