Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who co-heads the Japan Restoration Party, plans to attend a memorial ceremony in Okinawa on June 23 to commemorate those who died in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, sources close to the matter said Friday.
Hashimoto earlier this month proposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Yao Airport, located southwest of Osaka city, host some of the U.S. military's training exercises using its MV-22 Osprey aircraft in a bid to reduce the burden on Okinawa, home to the bulk of U.S. bases in Japan.
But it is still uncertain how people in Okinawa will react to Hashimoto's visit, with the outspoken politician having recently provoked outrage with his remarks that encouraged U.S. forces in the prefecture to use Japan's legal adult entertainment industry to prevent the recurrence of sex offenses, observers said.
Abe and other ministers are expected to attend the memorial service to be held on the 68th anniversary of the end of the battle at the Peace Memorial Park in the city of Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture.
Hashimoto is making preparations to attend the ceremony as the co-head of his party while the other head Shintaro Ishihara is to skip the ceremony, the sources said.
The Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Pacific during World War II. It claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people. More than 12,000 U.S. servicemen and one out of four Okinawa residents were killed.
Okinawa came under U.S. control after the war and was returned to Japan in 1972.