For bereaved families and fellow soldiers of those who dedicated their lives in the Battle of Iwo Jima, it is our pleasure to be able to welcome the members of the Iwo Jima Association of America, who came all the way from the United States. I am proud of and deeply moved by the fact that Iwo Jima is the only place in the world where former adversaries can come together to co-host a memorial service.
Unfortunately, we are not able to see our friend, former Chairman of Iwo Jima Association of America, MajGen Fred E. Haynes. I would like to commend his great achievement for the Battle of Iwo Jima Commemoration Ceremony in Japan. May his soul rest in peace.
The fierce battle on this island, which took place 70 years ago, resulted in a great number of deaths and casualties and made Iwo Jima an island remembered in history. Japanese soldiers suffered the heat of underground bunker, where the temperature rose to over 122 degrees F, and fought desperately without food or drinking water. Despite the overwhelming military disadvantage, these people who had been driven into a corner did not seek to escape or give in, but performed their duty until the end. For what purpose and how were they able to persevere under those circumstances? I think that the soldiers who fought in this infernal hell stood up with this hardship for the sake of their parents and loved ones at home and in order to delay the danger to them for as long as possible.
The heroic battle in Iwo Jima became the subject of two motion pictures filmed from the perspective of both the Japanese and Americans. These movies, directed by Mr. Clint Eastwood, won Academy Awards and have become a topic of conversation all over the world. The feelings of Japanese and American people, which were portrayed clearly by the two movies, were the same. Why did these troops, who shard the same feelings, had to fight each other? Mr. Eastwood said “War takes away the future from the young. However, we must respect and never forget the people who had to sacrifice themselves for their families and important matters. I want to convey this to the people in the world.”
We, the Bereaved families, would like to express our sincere sorrow for the loss of those who fought for their country and family, and we must pass down their history to the future generations so that their sacrifice will not be forgotten. Less than half of the remains of the Japanese troops were retrieved, with more than 12000 of them still left on this island, which seems to be a place where the time has stopped it move.
We will continue our activities until all the remains are retuned home. I keep in my mind that the peace and prosperity we enjoy now were built upon the many noble sacrifices of the war dead, and I would also like to renew my resolve to make further efforts for the peace and stability of the world through cooperation between Japan and the United States who now form film alliance.
I would like to conclude my remarks by expressing on behalf of the bereaved families our sincere appreciation to the personnel Japan Self Defense Force, especially the ones on this island Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and other government authorities, and officials of the U.S. Military or their significant assistance for today’s joint ceremony.