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Okinawa marks 69th anniversary of bloody World War II battle

40 Comments

Okinawa on Monday marked the 69th anniversary of a bloody World War II battle. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the ceremony at the Peace Park in Itoman, along with leaders of the lower and upper houses of the Diet, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.

A minute of silence was observed at noon for all victims of the Battle of Okinawa.

Okinawa fell to the U.S. after three months of bloody fighting in 1945. An estimated 250,000 people, including 150,000 Okinawan civilians, Japanese combatants and American soldiers, are believed to have died in the battle which began in April 1945. The names of more than 241,000 dead—Japanese and non-Japanese—are inscribed on a monument at the Peace Park.

In his speech, Abe paid tribute to the sacrifices made by Okinawans and the blood shed by its people, NHK reported. As he did last year, Abe once again pledged to ease the burden of local residents opposed to a heavy U.S. military presence on the island.

A plan to move the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma base from a crowded residential area to a sparsely populated area on the island has made nearly no progress because of islanders' push to move it outside Okinawa.

© AP/Japan Today

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God rest those souls of those brave soldiers

-7 ( +5 / -11 )

And civilians.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

both fought the invaders seeking the peace , Bless japan land forever

-16 ( +1 / -17 )

Techall:

AND 150,000 Civilians.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

no all of them were soldier with poor equipment no civilian were there , Stop distorting history , Glory to those brave fighter

-25 ( +0 / -25 )

69 years later and Okinawa is still being sacrificed by the Mainland Japanese. Save your empty promises Abe, that is the same speech that is made every year. The Okinawan people know you don`t care about them because if you did you would not be shoving that Henoko Relocation Plan down their throats.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

By any account, the battle of Okinawa was one of the most brutal clashes between two opposing military forces ever to have occurred since the first caveman swung a club in anger.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Hmmm... considering Abe's nationalistic state of denial regarding most of Japan's wartime atrocities it's legitimate to question his position on the Imperial Japanese Army's mistreatment of Okinawans at that time.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

How futile wars really are. There are never any winners, just losers. In the last century there were 355 major wars, revolutions and conflicts killing more than 150 million people. All wars are brutal and many civilians lose their lives. 94,000 civilians, about a quarter of the residents in the prefecture, died.

Its good that Japan and America were able to find peace with each other and Japan has been at peace for 70 years based on a pacifist constitution which PM Abe would now like to change.

There are still tensions between Japan and China and Japan and South Korea over its imperialist war past.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

War is the result of the stupidity of man. It always will be the stupidity of men (which leads to war) and it always will be the young people who pay the price.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

We should especially be grateful to American soldiers who lot their lives to save the world from a ruthless imperial power. The Japanese civilians were victims to the imperial system.

10 ( +14 / -5 )

"no all of them were soldier with poor equipment no civilian were there , Stop distorting history , Glory to those brave fighter"

@DDJapan453 - tell that to my mother, her sisters, my grandparents, and the brother/son they lost.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Many of the Japanese people that died committed suicide at the request of the powers at the time, so senseless.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If you ever get chance visit the museum inside peace memorial park, you will just hate Japanese army (back then). your soul will be heavier than ever. Rest in peace, all those innocent people who died because of this war.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"As he did last year, Abe once again pledged to ease the burden of local residents opposed to a heavy U.S. military presence on the island."

Save that steps have gone ahead to do what some Okinawans don't want in terms of base relocation. And why don't they just forget about this already and move on? I mean, that's the argument if it's Japanese atrocities, so why can't the locals just forget about it move forward based on promises made?

gogogo: "Many of the Japanese people that died committed suicide at the request of the powers at the time, so senseless."

It should be noted Abe had those stricken from the history books.

Zichi: "There are still tensions between Japan and China and Japan and South Korea over its imperialist war past."

The worst part is that it seems Japan is intent on repeating it.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Yes thank you people of Okinawa for the great sacrifices you made and to show you how much we appreciate those sacrifices, we are going to keep you the poorest prefecture in Japan forever and let you host some of the largest military bases outside of the U.S. forever.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Nauseating.

Can you imagine being an 18-year-old Japanese child, scarcely able to comprehend the world around you, given minimal training and ordered to hold a rifle and die by enemy machine gun fire? For no reason? By a government that sees you as nothing but an ant to be thrown into the mindless inferno of war for its own selfish purposes?

War is complete insanity. And it will never end because most people in power are too stupid to realize that.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yes thank you people of Okinawa for the great sacrifices you made and to show you how much we appreciate those sacrifices, we are going to keep you the poorest prefecture in Japan forever and let you host some of the largest military bases outside of the U.S. forever.

Okinawa's economic situation has little to do with Tokyo and a lot to do with Okinawa having little industry besides tourism. I've often said that all Okinawa needs to do to get the Americans off the island is to secede from Japan, but I know that will never happen because Okinawa trying to fund their own government would make the economic troubles in Europe seem like child's-play. If Okinawans think they're a poor prefecture now, just imagine how poor they would become as a COUNTRY.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We should especially be grateful to American soldiers who lot their lives to save the world from a ruthless imperial power.

South-East Asia isn't "the World".

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Select Feature, Kuchikomi, and find :"Okinawans in outlying isles more afraid of Abe than China": It stated the memory of an Okinawan person, etc.

Okinawans who had been opressed by Japanese Govt, went to welcome USA force, then USA forces mistook them as enemies. So, massacre occurred. You can not call all Okinwans were soldiers. Babies, and children were among them,

They did not enlist or were drafted.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

69 years later and Okinawa is still being sacrificed by the Mainland Japanese. Save your empty promises Abe, that is the same speech that is made every year. The Okinawan people know you don`t care about them because if you did you would not be shoving that Henoko Relocation Plan down their throats.

Indeed you nailed it

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Fadamor: Okinawa`s economic situation has a lot to do with Tokyo. Okinawa is kept as a poor prefecture so it will be dependent on the bases and J-Govt. spending. Although Tokyo gives a large budget to Okinawa, most of that money returns to Tokyo. Most of the Govt. funded construction contracts go to mainland companies with Okinawan companies lucky if they can be sub-contractors. Even a lot of the construction contracts awarded by the U.S. military for work inside the bases are given to mainland companies. Okinawan people bear the burden of the bases but mainland companies make the money. There could be industry on Okinawa if the J-Govt. wanted it but all they want Okinawa to be is a resort for mainland tourists and a home for U.S. military bases. Everything the J-Govt. does on Okinawa is for the benefit of mainland Japanese first, the U.S. military second and the Okinawan people come in last.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Okinawans, remember that it was the Japan Imperial military that brought havoc and destruction to Okinawa. Most Japanese did not consider Ryukyu islanders as Japanese. The IJA troops disregard for life on Okinawa is well documented. It is unfortunate that the IJA and IJN decided to fortify Okinawa to meet the Allied Forces. If the stand was made in Kyushu, you can bet that most of the current US Forces will be stationed there instead of Okinawa.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

That battle was a complete a complete disaster. Died: Allied soldiers 14k, mainland soldiers 80k, and civilians 150k. The impact on civilians was completely senseless. Japan should have surrendered after that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That battle was a complete a complete disaster. Died: Allied soldiers 14k, mainland soldiers 80k, and civilians 150k. The impact on civilians was completely senseless. Japan should have surrendered after that.

Actually, Japan should have surrendered BEFORE that. Japan was out of essential warmaking resources such as fuel, their people were dying of malnutrition due to food shortages, and all their gains made in the Pacific had been lost. With Japan's Axis ally in Europe about to collapse, Russia was already looking to turn their attention to the Japanese problem in the East. Japan was looking at a pincer attack that would wipe them from the face of the Earth. What kept Japan from surrendering was the Allies' insistence on an unconditional surrender and the Emperor being held accountable for the war. There were factions within the IJA who were pressing for surrender, but the thought of the divine (as he was considered at the time) Emperor being put through the humiliation of a trial as a mortal human was too much for the majority to agree to. Ultimately, the Allies unofficially dropped the requirement for the Emperor being held accountable, but not until much later - AFTER the Battle of Okinawa was over. Had the Allies relented on this point much sooner, who knows how many lives would have been saved by an early Japanese surrender?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Okinawans, remember that it was the Japan Imperial military that brought havoc and destruction to Okinawa. Most Japanese did not consider Ryukyu islanders as Japanese.

Calling for independence of Ryukyu Kingdom ? Then Okinawans may solve all problems at once, including the presence of US bases on Okinawa.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sidekick, independence for Ryukyu islanders will not happen. Remember, their last King died in Edo as a virtual prisoner.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

their last King died in Edo as a virtual prisoner.

True, but feudal times are over. Nowadays they may form a referendum and vote for autonomy or independence.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Okinawa does not need independence, it needs to be treated like a true family member by the J-Govt. instead of a step-child that is tolerated but not cared about. The tragedy of Okinawa is that it has always been controlled by countries who care nothing about the Okinawan people. When the U.S. controlled Okinawa all they cared about were their bases and everything they did for Okinawa was with the bases being the first priority. The Japanese are the same way、 very little they do on Okinawa is meant to help the average Okinawan person but to create a good environment for mainland Japanese and U.S. military bases.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Okinawans, remember that it was the Japan Imperial military that brought havoc and destruction to Okinawa. Most Japanese did not consider Ryukyu islanders as Japanese. The IJA troops disregard for life on Okinawa is well documented. It is unfortunate that the IJA and IJN decided to fortify Okinawa to meet the Allied Forces. If the stand was made in Kyushu, you can bet that most of the current US Forces will be stationed there instead of Okinawa.

How do you know that? especially in the light of how you mentioned that the Japanese don't treat Ryukyu Islanders as Japanese, you'd be sure that it's their island that will be used by Tokyo to dump our American protectors regardless of where a large battle would be fought.

and you forgot to mention the US annexed Okinawa and gave it back to the Japanese after the war. It seems historical revisionism is not the just the province of Japanese nationalists.

and here comes the negative thumbs down by the usual J-bashers, come here, give me -40

0 ( +0 / -0 )

NeoJamal, the US annexed Okinawa?? After WWII,Okinawa and the Bonin-Volcano Islands were Occupied by US Forces and administrative control was reverted to Japan in 1968 and 1970.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Japan4life,

When the U.S. controlled Okinawa all they cared about were their bases and everything they did for Okinawa was with the bases being the first priority.

You shouldn't act like the Okinawans were being picked on in this regard. The entirety of Japan had to face the fact that the occupying forces did not care about the Japanese people's well being. Had you tried to print your comment back in 1946, at best the comment would have been censored out of any publication and at worst you would have been jailed for insurrection. Japanese people in EVERY part of the country, not just Okinawa, could not do or say anything that reflected negatively on the occupying forces and the occupying forces could not be accused of a crime by a Japanese citizen even if there were twenty witnesses. The Occupation Forces took advantage of that every chance they could get. Japanese citizens were the defeated foe - to be abused at every opportunity. Though food shortages were rampant and people were dying daily of malnutrition, the Occupying Forces initially did nothing to address it. It wasn't until three or so years after the war before SCAP started to address the abuses in the supply chains and the food shortages caused by hoarding.

So don't try and make it seem like the poor Okinawans were being targeted by the evil Americans. ALL Japanese were being targeted by the evil Americans.

@NeoJamal,

and you forgot to mention the US annexed Okinawa and gave it back to the Japanese after the war. It seems historical revisionism is not the just the province of Japanese nationalists.

You apparently missed Tom Webb's point. The U.S. "annexed" Okinawa at the end of the war because that's where their forces were being built up at the time of the surrender. Airfields and bases had been rebuilt and fortified with the idea that they were going to see heavy use during the assault on mainland Japan. Tom's point was that had they bypassed Okinawa and instead went for Kyuushu, THAT's where the forces would have been at the time of surrender and THAT'S where the U.S. would have annexed the territory. I'm not sure where your "historical revisionism" comment is coming from. We were taught about the U.S. annexation of the Bonin and Ryuukyu Islands in Junior High School. Of course, they leave the grisly details out of those lessons. You don't learn about the seedier side of the occupation and how our country that makes a big deal about "Freedom of Speech" all but trampled the Japanese ability to exercise that freedom until you get some college courses on the subject. (I guess they didn't want to upset the delicate sensibilities of us middle-school students.)

As it is, Okinawa has the most bases because Okinawa is in the vicinity of the most "hotspots". All it would take for Okinawa to become a "hotspot" itself is for the Okinawans to do something extremely dumb and kick the military off their island. If the Americans leave, then the JSDF would have to move in. If the JSDF leave, then (roll the dice) Taiwan/South Korea/North Korea/China will move in. Claiming that the only thing putting Okinawa at risk is the presence of the military bases demonstrates just how utterly, hopelessly, clueless Okinawans are. Okinawa is at risk due to it's geographic location much more so than how many bases are on it. Most wars are fought to acquire land and Okinawa is some PRIME real estate for controlling the southern access to the East China Sea. Any school kid with a map of the area can see that - but apparently not if they're from Okinawa.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fadamo rJun. 25, 2014 - 04:15AM JST All it would take for Okinawa to become a "hotspot" itself is for the Okinawans to do something extremely dumb and kick the military off their island.

Japan goverment tried but U.S. won't let them. In 2009, when Hatoyama became a PM of Japan, the Obama administration was aware that there was a section of politicians in Japan who sought distance from U.S. Even many Japanese people started to view Japan’s policies as being dictated by the U.S. and described their own country as “America’s colony”. In particular, right-wing nationalists vouched for reducing reliance on the U.S. and argued that Japan must not be afraid to take a confrontational position in foreign policy. Hatoyama was probably articulating his foreign policy in conformity with the national mood but at the end it proved disastrous. The Obama administration was instrumental in Hatoyama’s ouster from office because of the latter’s inept handling of the Futenma base relocation issue. In 2010, Obama snubbed Hatoyama and weeks later Hatoyama resigned and was replaced by the more U.S. acceptable Naoto Kan. Kan immediately confirmed that the Futenma base issue would proceed according to the U.S. desire. No wonder, when the leaks surfaced, he declined to comment and said that the announcement of information was “not legitimate”. The J-government succumbed to the U.S. pressure to follow its line of thinking. Okinawa may be a problem for Japan but getting out of this is likely to be messy. Japan has no alternative than to preserve its alliance relationship with the U.S. for the foreseeable future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You apparently missed Tom Webb's point. The U.S. "annexed" Okinawa at the end of the war because that's where their forces were being built up at the time of the surrender. Airfields and bases had been rebuilt and fortified with the idea that they were going to see heavy use during the assault on mainland Japan. Tom's point was that had they bypassed Okinawa and instead went for Kyuushu, THAT's where the forces would have been at the time of surrender and THAT'S where the U.S. would have annexed the territory. I'm not sure where your "historical revisionism" comment is coming from

That wasn't his point at all. Through his rambling he was making incessant implication that is mostly if not entirely Japan's fault that the Okinawans must endure the continued presence of US bases. He makes no acknowledgement that the US annexed Okinawa at all, so there is no way he can hypothesize that the US would've annexed Kyushu if they invaded that island instead as you revise.

So why is omitting the fact that the US did not rule Okinawa a material thing that would warrant an alarm like the one that Japan's continental friends like to cry historical revision ?

It's the fact their 20 year rule of Okinawa, the US only solidified their military presence on the island that would last well into the decades following the handover back to Japan.

Here's the impact: let's face it, the US had no intention to let go of the land that hosts the bases in Okinawa or any new or existing intention to leave unless the Japanese taxpayers shoulder the cost (yes I mean the people inhabiting the other 46 prefectures including non-voting gaijin who pay tax to the Japanese government) .

Unemployment figures in Okinawa have become virtually dependent on the bases. There are significant number of Okinawans who make a living servicing those who work on the base, some even work on the bases themselves. If they lose their base related jobs, they'll most likely flock to the Home Islands and compete with the locals in the scarce job market (not everyone wants to become elderly caretakers where there is ample demand for wrinkle bottom wipers). But that will not serve as incentive Tokyo to help Okinawa invest in creating non-base related jobs because the island has a population of barely 1 million, and a portion of those inhabitants becoming unemployed and taking mainlander jobs won't make a dent in the national unemployment statistics.

In retrospect, the livelihood of much of the Okinawans now still depend on how US-Japan foreign relations pan out, no unlike 70 years ago, and let's not kid ourselves that the US only responds to Japan's whims on this matter. The US presence on Okinawa is very much in its own interest (ala. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq).

Conflicting interests between the US and Japan aside, if the US should leave because Abe's policies on Japan rearming itself and assume a greater role in its own defence plays out, you'd bet the JSDF will return to occupy those Okinawan bases themselves. The status quo remains for the Okinawans at least and they can surely credit the US for beginning all this by choosing to maintain and expanding the bases following Japan's surrender.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are never any winners, just losers [in war.]

No, America won the war. That is why America has so much power today, and Germany and Japan do not.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

NeoJamal Jun. 25, 2014 - 06:36AM JST Here's the impact: let's face it, the US had no intention to let go of the land that hosts the bases in Okinawa or any new or existing intention to leave unless the Japanese taxpayers shoulder the cost (yes I mean the people inhabiting the other 46 prefectures including non-voting gaijin who pay tax to the Japanese government) .

Just a small correction. The actual bases are 100% funded by Japanese taxpayers. In fact they are Japanese property, and the Japanese taxpayer pays for everything in regard to the base. In the base, like equipment, personnel, etc is paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, although Japanese taxpayers subsidize some of the things, like fuel costs. The simple fact is that all the U.S. bases in Japan are actually owned by the Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Keep in mind that over 80% of the population of Okinawa (Okinawan's) were born AFTER WWII and only know of the war through the stories and history that the elderly have passed along to them.

This is where it becomes imperative for the true history of what happened here remain alive in people's minds and hearts and not what Abe and his cronies and revisionists would rather have happen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@fadamor: After being staioned on Okinawa with the Army from Jun 66 to Nov 68 and living continuosly on Okinawa from Oct 71 as a civilian on the local economy I have found the people of Okinawa to be kind and gentle and not hopeless and clueless. Next year will be 70 years after WWII and the same speech will be made by whoever is Prime Minister. 2045 will be100 years after WWII and the same speech will be made by whoever is Prime Minister. We pay tribute to the sacrifices of the Okinawan People and the blood they shed and we promise to ease their burden. And 100 years after WWII Okinawa will still be the poorest prefecture in Japan and the people of Okinawa will still be treated as 2nd class citizens by the bureaucrats and politicians in Tokyo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"the burden of local residents opposed to a heavy U.S. military presence on the island"

This burden is so much lighter than the burden that would be borne today if Japan hadn't been bombed into surrender, and the Japanese military government continued until they got the A-bomb... .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Walmart and many supermarkets in USA, Okinawa Life, etc are sold. Okinawan has more aged population rate than USA, TV commercial say. BTW, last year Japan paid more than 2 billion dollars to USA and USA officials demanded Japan to keep that level every year. It is called 'Omoiyari (Empathy) Funds. Well, USA finance situation is not too good so Japan will pay even Okinawan people are more afraid Abe than China,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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