Memories of the Battle of Okinawa    ~ for sustainable future of Asia ~
 
Okinawa is the southern island (actually "islands") of Japan.
Okinawa experienced grueling ground war against the U.S. forces during the Second World War.
After the war, Okinawa remained under American rule until 1972. 

A lot of Okinawan civilians, from children to elders, got drawn into the fighting, and lost their own lives.

  *The number of people who died in the Battle of Okinawa
       American Soldiers                            --- almost 12,520 people
    Soldiers from Mainland of Japan       --- almost 65,908 people
    Soldiers from Okinawa                     --- almost 28,228 people
             General Inhabitant                            --- almost 94,000 people
    
                    Total                                               200,656 people

But it seems to be very hard to estimate the number of deaths correctly. Some researchers estimate more than 150,000 of Okinawan died during this war, which is equivalent to one-quarter of population in Okinawa at that time. In fact, we know some stories that the whole family members were killed by someone or killed by themselves during the battle.

Another suggestive evidence is that more than 10,000 people of 65,908 soldiers were from Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan.
In addition to this, not only the above-mentioned people but also Korean and Taiwanese became the victims of the Battle of Okinawa. Especially the case of Korean, it is said that they were forcibly taken to the battlefield by Japanese army.

"The Cornerstone of Peace" ( "平和の礎"; Heiwa no Ishiji, in Japanese ), at the Okinawa battlefield quasi National Park, was built as a monument. Its statement of purpose is the following; 
"The Cornerstone of Peace" was erected to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the World War II and the Battle of Okinawa. It conveys to the Japanese as well as people of the world, the "spirit of peace" which has developed through Okinawa's history and culture. The names of all those who lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa- regardless of their nationality or whether they ware of military or civilian status- are inscribed on "The Cornerstone of Peace," Serving as a prayer for eternal world peace.
click an image to see a larger version             

 Statement written in English, Korean & Chinese 

Okinawan people


Taiwanese & Korean (North)

American soldiers


Korean (South)

This monument faces the East China Sea. At that time, many Okinawan who could find no way to escape dived into the sea from the cliff.
The sea is beautiful for ever, with deep griefs of many people.

 
 
 

There are still several U.S. military bases in Okinawa. Many fighter planes and U.S. soldiers used to fly to Vietnam from Okinawa in the 60's & early 70's. 
It is actually one of the tragic memories of WW2, but it is not just a memory for people in Okinawa; those tragedies are still leaving there and affecting on their daily life.
The Battle of Okinawa has not ended for them yet.   

* For further information: 
         Okinawa Prefecture's Home Page                                -->   http://www.pref.okinawa.jp/english/peace/index.html
         Okinawa Prefectural  Peace Memorial Museum         -->  http://www.peace-museum.pref.okinawa.jp/english/index.html

(By Naoko Yoshida)