Mourners gather in front of the prefectural office in Naha on Aug. 13 to pay last respects to the late Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, some with banners saying, “Thank you, Governor Onaga” and “We will fight on,” as the hearse arrives with his cremated remains. (Video footage by Hiroki Ito and Masaru Komiyaji)

NAHA--Thousands turned out Aug. 13 to pay last respects to Takeshi Onaga, the governor of Okinawa Prefecture who became a symbol of the anti-U.S. base movement here.

Onaga died Aug. 8 of pancreatic cancer at age 67.

Business and political leaders were among the 4,500 or so mourners who attended the memorial service in Naha.

Lamenting Onaga's passing, close friend and former governor Keiichi Inamine, 84, said: “Your actions, in which you risked your life and limb, had a huge impact on all of Japan. Okinawa’s cherished hopes of pursuing peace are guaranteed to pass to the next generation."

Onaga was strident in his opposition to moves by the central government to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago in the prefecture.

Prior to the memorial service, the hearse bearing Onaga’s cremated remains drove through Naha and stopped in front of the Okinawa prefectural government office, where staff and hundreds of citizens gathered to send him off with a simple, “Thank you, Mr. Onaga.”