June 23, 2015

Battle of Okinawa anniversary

Filed under: Japan — theresaurus @ 10:44 pm

Sam’s mother has been doing a lot of house cleaning and we helped her last weekend.  Sam found a basket lined with newspaper from 1961 while clearing several shelves of junk covered with very thick dust. Turns out that his mother had woven the basket herself.  She found her wedding picture in an old file and giggled when she showed it to us.

Nearly 60 years ago, this happened:


Today I watched news coverage of the anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa.  70 years ago, this happened:

Student Nurses of the ‘Lily Corps’ by Miyagi Kikuko in Japan at War: An Oral History:

“We were smoked out onto the cliff tops.  … ‘If we stand up, they’ll shoot us,’ we thought, so we stood up.  We walked upright with dignity, but they held their fire.  We were slightly disappointed. …  A small boat came toward us from a battleship.  Then, for the first time, we heard the voice of the enemy.  ‘Those who can swim, swim out!  …  We have food!  We will rescue you!’  They actually did!  They took care of Okinawans really well, according to international law, but we only learned that later.  We thought we were hearing the voices of demons.  From the time we’d been children, we’d only been educated to hate them.  They would strip the girls naked and do with them whatever they wanted, then run over them with tanks.  We really believed that.  Not only us girls.  Mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers all were cowering at the voice of the devils.  So what we had been taught robbed us of life.  I can never forgive what education did to us!  Had we known the truth, all of us would have survived.  …  Anyway, we didn’t answer that voice, but continued our flight.

“I had a hand grenade and so did Teacher.  Nine of our group were jammed into a tiny hole.  …  Suddenly, a Japanese soldier climbed down the cliff.  A Japanese soldier raising his hands in surrender?  Impossible!  Traitor!  We’d been taught, and firmly believed, that we Okinawans, Great Japanese all, must never fall into the hands of the enemy.  …  Another soldier, crouching behind a rock near us, shot him.  The sea water was dyed red.  Thus I saw Japanese murdering Japanese for the first time. …  Soon a rain of small arms fire began.  Americans firing at close range.  They must have thought we were with that soldier.  …  I was now under four dead bodies.  …  Yonamine-sensei, our teacher, shouldering a student bathed in blood, stood facing an American soldier.  Random firing stopped.  The American, who had been firing wildly, must have noticed he was shooting girls.  He could be seen from the hole where my ten classmates were hiding.  They pulled the pin on their hand grenade.  So unfortunate!  I now stepped out over the corpses and followed Teacher.  …  My grenade was taken away.  I had held on to it to the last minute.  The American soldiers lowered their rifles.  I looked past them and saw my ten classmates.  … Now there was nothing left of them.  The hand grenade is so cruel.

“Young people sometimes ask us, ‘Why did you take part in such a stupid war?’  For us the Emperor and the Nation were supreme.  For them, one should not withhold one’s life.  Strange, isn’t it?  That’s really the way it was.  We had been trained for the Battle of Okinawa from the day the war with America began.”


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