U.S. envoy Roos to attend memorial ceremony in Okinawa

U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos will attend a memorial ceremony in Okinawa Prefecture on Sunday commemorating those who died in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said Friday.

"I am honored to be able to attend this important ceremony," Roos said, adding that he aims to "further strengthen and expand the bonds of friendship between the people of Okinawa and the people of the United States."

His attendance at the ceremony, to be held at the Peace Memorial Park in the city of Itoman in the southwestern Japan prefecture, will be the first by a U.S. ambassador since Walter Mondale in 1995.

The Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Pacific during World War II, claiming 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.