MEMBERS of the Nenpou Shinkyou Buddhist denomination from Japan held a memorial ceremony for the casualties of World War II in Marpi yesterday morning.
CNMI officials joined the 66-member group who lighted candles, offered flowers, fruit, wine and prayers for the departed.
In separate ceremonies, Nenpou Shinkyou’s high priest Most Reverend Ryoyu Okeya led the offering of flowers and prayers at the Japanese Peace Memorial and threw bouquets of flowers at Banzai Cliff .
In his brief message on behalf of Gov. Benigno Fitial and Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos, Press Secretary Angel Demapan said: “We are proud to serve as the home of your organization’s first monument built outside of Japan.”
He said although the Battle of Saipan was not a long conflict, about 50,000 civilians and military personnel died in a span of 24 days, including Japanese, U.S. service members, Chamorros and Carolinians and other foreign nationals.
He said since then, there has been a constant reminder of the horrors of war through the war memorial monuments in Marpi and the annual pilgrimage of organizations such as the Nenpou Shinkyou who pray for world peace and for the souls of those who died during the war.
“Today, we are tremendously grateful that we continue to remain at peace with Japan…together we have achieved forgiveness and reconciliation and have rebuilt our devastated societies. We will never fail to remember how far we have come and where we came from,” Demapan said.
Pacific Eagle Enterprises,Inc. vice president Aya Matsumoto said the group will be leaving Saipan this afternoon.
On Saturday morning, the group conducted a cleanup drive around the Japanese Peace Memorial and at Banzai Cliff to prepare for the ceremony.
The Nenpou Shinkyo Buddhist denomination has about 88 shrines all over Japan.
The ceremony yesterday was also attended by Saipan Mayor Donald Flores, Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Perry Tenorio and wife Teresa Kim-Tenorio, Japan’s Consul General for the CNMI Tsutomu Higuchi and other guests.