HIROSHIMA - Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the battleship Yamato off Kagoshima Prefecture as it was headed for the Battle of Okinawa at the end of the Pacific War. It carried 3,056 crew members.
At the former Kure navy cemetery in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, where the battleship was constructed, about 300 people, including bereaved families, attended a memorial ceremony where they mourned the loss of the crew members and prayed for peace.
The ceremony was held by Senkan Yamato kai, a group comprising former crew members, their families and volunteer members. The group was reorganised last year.
"In praying for their souls, I hope we can contribute to maintaining peace through conveying our experiences to younger generations," said Kazushi Hiro, president of the group and former Yamato crew member during his speech at the ceremony following a moment of silence in which participants looked upon a memorial for those who died on the battleship.
Hiro, in his early 90s, was 17 when he joined the battleship as a signalman in August 1941. At the time, the Yamato was undergoing final tests at the naval base in Kure and Hiro only spent two years on the ship before being reassigned.
One of his close friends, who was called up in the same year as Hiro, died on the Yamato.
"I want to protect this memorial as a survivor," said Hiro, joining his hands in prayer. "We must never to have a war again."