Chuuk Hosts Japanese WWII Memorial Service At Sea

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Relatives of those lost in ships sunk in lagoon remember war dead

Chuuk, FSM (Marianas Variety, Feb. 20, 2015) – Relatives who lost loved ones when Japanese naval ships were sunk during an intense attack by U.S. forces on the Chuuk Islands in the central Pacific Ocean 71 years ago visited the location on Tuesday and offered flowers to remember those who lost their lives at sea.

The Chuuk state government also held a memorial ceremony on the same day, attended by about 100 local people, to remember the war dead.

The islands, formerly known as Truk and now incorporated into Chuuk state of the Federated States of Micronesia, were used as a base for the former Imperial Japanese Navy’s combined fleet. About 40 vessels were sunk in a U.S. air raid and by other means over two days from Feb. 17, 1944.

On Tuesday, the 71st anniversary of the raid, Masahiro Iwai dived to a depth of about 13 meters to get close to the Kiyosumi Maru, a transport vessel on which his uncle, Minoru, served.

"My uncle died at the young age of 25. He must have had regrets as he was engaged," said Iwai in his late 60s. This was his eighth visit to the islands since 1984.

The number of the bereaved relatives who visit the spot to remember their families has decreased, said Iwai, who lives in Komaki, Aichi Prefecture.

"I’ll never forget you," he said in addressing the victims during his dive. He left behind sake and flowers he picked on the islands.

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