Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 22 Nov 2019 12am







    Thursday, November 21, 2019-4:00:53A.M.






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Shinto and Buddhist priests hold memorial ceremony in hotel parking lot

SEVENTY-FIVE years after one of the fiercest battles in the Pacific theater of World War II, Kuentai-USA is still hoping that the remains of all Japanese and U.S. military personnel who died here will be finally returned home.

To date, 28,000 Japanese and 477 Americans are still missing, Yukari Akatsuka of Kuentai-USA said.

On Saturday morning, Shinto and Buddhist priests from Japan held a memorial service for the souls of the war dead in the parking lot of Aqua Resort Club in Achugao, a mass burial site for American and Japanese servicemembers.

In his remarks, Japan Consul to Saipan Kazuhiko Ono said he was thankful to local leaders for supporting Kuentai-USA’s mission.

“We should never forget that peace was founded on the sacrifices made by many people who lost their lives,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios said the administration will remain supportive of Kuentai-USA’s mission to find and repatriate the remains of missing Japanese and American servicemembers.

Saipan Mayor David Apatang lauded Kuentai-USA’s “relentless effort and dedication.”

Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios offers his prayers during the memorial ceremony.  Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios offers his prayers during the memorial ceremony. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

“For 75 years, we have kept the memories [of those who died in the war] alive and we continue to honor the brave men and women who fought and sacrificed their precious lives for freedom and peace,” Apatang said.

“It is us, who are living now, who must entrust to the next generation, our children, the meaning and importance of life. It is our duty to teach our children not to discriminate differences but to appreciate them and be able to join hands to move closer to obtaining peace, protection, and prosperity for all,” the mayor added.

Chalan Kanoa Bishop Ryan Jimenez said the Catholic Church supports Kuentai-USA’s mission.

“One thing that binds us together is our deep respect for the dead,” he added.

Though Shintoism, Buddhism and Catholicism differ in the way their express their faith, Bishop Jimenez said they are united in their “respect for the dead and in the love for those who have gone before us.”

The Shinto priests who joined the ceremony were Real Reverend Yoshinobu Miyake, Reverend Norimichi Uemura, Reverend Keisuke Bessho, Reverend Motoharu Chikusa and Toshihito Bessho.

The participating Buddhist priests were Venerable Hakuga Murayama, Venerable Ryushin Onishi and Venerable Kensho Teramoto.