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By Jude O. Marfil

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 31) - At least 300 senior citizens from Okinawa and Tokyo arrived on Saipan yesterday to pay tribute to thousands of soldiers and civilians who died here during World War II.

Pacific Development Inc.’s public relations officer Gordon Marciano said the visiting Japanese are members of the Micronesia Repatriation Association Okinawa and the Zenkoku Nanyokai Association.

"Their purpose is to pray for those who had perished during the Second World War and to extend the same prayers for those who are still… fighting in (wars)," Marciano said.

During their five-day stay in the CNMI, Marciano said the Japanese senior citizens will meet with their local friends and people they went to school with.

"They will have the chance to party with their local friends," he said.

This year will be the last and final stages for the Zenkoku group since a number of its members have already died.

"Most of the remaining members have decided to close the final chapter on the Zenkoku Nanyokai members," he said.

As for MRA, the group will continue on with its yearly pilgrimage tour, according to Marciano.

At 10 a.m. today, MRA members will hold their 36th Saipan-Okinawa peace memorial services at the Okinawa Peace Tower next to the Last Command Post in Marpi.

In a dinner today, MRA will name the four students who will fly to Okinawa as part of a cultural exchange program.

On Thursday, they will conduct their 28th Tinian Okinawa Peace Memorial Services on Tinian. On Friday, they will go to Rota to hold the same ceremony on Mount Sabana.

June 1, 2005

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