is the 75th Okinawa Memorial Day,
the day to console the dead, on June 23, 2020. The anniversary ceremony will be
held in a far smaller scale due to the epidemic. Let’s think over
responsibility of the post-war generations as well as ‘succession of memories’,
given that people who experienced the war are obliged to recede from the stage
OF MEMORIES AND RESPONSIBILITY OF POST-WAR GENERATIONS
Okinawa government originally mapped out to
hold the official service this year at the National Cemetery of War Victims with
participation of 16 people due to the outbreak of infectious disease.
opinions and criticisms were presented from citizens as well as researchers; ‘the
plan does not go along with feeling of Okinawa people who suffer from cruel demise
of family members who were caught by the state-led war’, ‘the deaths may be
regarded as those of martyrs who contributed to the national cause, with hiding
the disastrous costs inflicted on residents’, and etc. Governor of Okinawa
Tamaki, who made a self-criticism saying about ‘lack of studying’, and the
prefecture authorities decided to have the ceremony as usual in the square of
the Peace Memorial Park with participation of some 200 people.
the vicinity of the National Cemetery of War Victims there erected are many monuments
to honor soldiers coming to Okinawa from
various prefectures of the country. The epitaphs represent a prevailing version
of the August 15 1945 memory seen in the rest of Japan.
we hear of stories from the people who experienced the war, we are overwhelmed
by their grief of ‘long years of silence’.
Uehara Tomiko, who was a high school student mobilized by the Himeyuri Troop,
said it had took her 30 years to make testimonies. She lost many of her friends
on the ruthless trail toward south to seek for refuge. She was unable to visit
families of her friends soon after the war, as she was annoyed by feeling of self-responsibility
and fear of accusation.
was 38 years after the war that people could know about mass suicides that had
happened in the Chibichiri-gama cave. Though surviving residents are victims they
feel in some way they are responsible for the deaths of blood kin and friends,
and thus, the post-war era began for them with nothing but being silent.
Komine Masao, who had experienced mass suicides in the Tokashiki
Island, decided to testify in 2007
when the Ministry of Education of Japan demanded the school textbook
panel to erase a description on the complicity of Japanese military in the mass
suicides. He told he had felt that his life had been deleted. Every time before
and after he testifies he is unable to sleep and suffers from a feeling of fatigue.
Miyazato Yoko, who survived the mass suicides in the Zamami Island,
talks that she has not traveled for a few days with her good friends, for she
jumps out of bed, crying out, as she has a nightmare of the battlefield.
of Okinawa from a viewpoint of residents
narrative of a war front becomes a story of war only when people sincerely listen
to and identify it. What is important is literacy of the generations who have
not experienced wars to interpret and memorize the historic facts. In Okinawa Prefecture
official, broader investigative efforts have been made to compile the post-war
history of Okinawa and to inscribe names of
the dead on the monument, the Foundation of Peace. What had happened in the war
zones has been studied from a perspective of inhabitants.
greatest lesson has been gained by these enormous labors from the Battle of
Okinawa; ‘the military does not defend residents’.