Saturday,August 21,1999
Saturday Evening Edition

Interpreting the Battle of Okinawa

What is the real answer to
What is the real answer to "What did you do in the War, daddy?"

The display of a Japanese soldier pointing a gun at Okinawan civilians, telling part of the tragic history of the Battle of Okinawa during WWII, has been eliminated from the exhibition plans of the Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum set to open next March. Although the contents of the display were arranged by supervising editors appointed by the Okinawa Prefectural Government, Governor Keiichi Inamine ordered a review of the plan without consulting the editors. The editors and historians now complain that "the change is the same as falsifying War history."

According to some of the editors who made an inspection tour of the factory where the miniature War scene was being made, they found a major change in the section titled "The Okinawa Battle and people." It was supposed to tell the tragedy of mass suicides orchestrated by Japanese soldiers, but "the concept had totally vanished" said one editor.

In the initial display plan, a soldier was pointing a rifle at a mother, ordering her to kill her baby because the baby's cries would be heard and targetted by American soldiers. The display was supposed to depict the horror of Japanese soldiers doing away with burdensome citizens during the fighting.

The set now in the making depicts a soldier with no gun and only staring at people hiding in a cave. The supervising editors were not notified of the change.

Masahiko Hoshi, a member of the supervisory committee, said "We had met many times to deliberate plans with the OPG administration, editors, and producers. It is strange that the OPG changed a major concept without any consultation with us."

An OPG official emphasized that any decision would be made by the supervising editors' committee, and went on to say that there were different aspects of the Battle. They wanted to show the editors a model of a soldier without a rifle as a suggestion, since there would be lot of family members of former Japanese soldiers visiting the museum who might take offence.

One of the key considerations in the perception of the Battle of Okinawa was whether Japanese soldiers leveled their guns at local people. The OPG did not explain the reasons for the change, but expressed annoyance of the news report about the change, saying "it is still under review."

Governor Inamine conceded the fact that he advised the concept change to those in charge of making the display. After Inamine heard of the hubbub over the museum set, he told officers that the "concept would not only be depicting the Battle of Okinawa, but also to prevail for world peace."

The Governor hinted that the display may be different from the initial plan by commenting that "We will keep the real faces of the Battle in the exhibitions. The question will be how and in what form we will keep the history."

The thirteen]member supervising editors' committee of historians was formed in September, 1996. They had visited several war museums in other prefectures and countries to help make their exhibition plans. The committee has not met since March this year.

Mr. Kentoshi Kudeken, a historian of the Battle of Okinawa, has had a change of heart and now is refusing to donate his 150]piece collection of War memorabilia to the museum. He said "The material does not speak for itself. Their meaning may be distorted by the captions attached to them. I can't understand why the OPG had to change the plan, and I am now afraid how my collection would be used by the change." His collection includes such items as an iron canteen with a bullet hole in it and a wedding dress made from a parachute.

Hogging acclaim

The movie preview of "Buta no Mukui (Deserts of a Pig)" made by noted director Mr. Yoichi Sai was held at the Palette Civic Theater in Naha City on August 18. Mr. Sai, leading actress Yoshie Hayasaka, and author Eiki Matayoshi were on stage.

The film was based on Matayoshi's novel of the same title which won Japan's famed Akutagawa Award.

Location shooting was done on Okinawa last fall on Kudaka Island, the main setting of the story, and in Urasoe City. The film had won an award at the 52nd Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland.

The film will be released on September 4 on Okinawa.

Keep our islands clean!

The Okinawa International Clean Beach Club compiled the data of trash picked up at twenty]five beaches on Okinawa last September by club members. Of course it included the usual empty cans, cigarette butts, and PET bottles, but there were fifteen tons of it in total. Currently, Okinawa is a long way off from becoming a "tourist spot" as written in guidebooks. The club emphasizes that the blue skies and white beaches are the precious treasures of Okinawa. Each citizen should understand its importance.

The club, based in Onna Village, regularly cleans beaches on the third Sunday in September every year in addition to other activities. Last year about 4,300 people participated]]checking, sorting, and counting up the numbers of things people throw away. The amount of strewn trash is remarkable at non]managed beaches, holiday resorts, popular parking areas such as Senaga Island in Tomishiro Village, and the breakwater at Miyagi Beach in Chatan Town.

Club members have found drums filled dangerous waste, medical hypodermic syringes, and needles. According to the club, almost all beaches on Okinawa are far from safe to walk barefoot.

The cleanup is held in 72 countries, with this year's beach cleaning to take place September 18]19.

Student travel to Okinawa

The Okinawa Prefectural Tourism and Resort Bureau recently reported figures concerning the number of schools and students that visited Okinawa for school trips in 1998. The report was compiled from data taken from travel agencies and carriers in order to promote future school trips to Okinawa.

Last year the total reached 1,149 schools, an increase of 11.9%, and the number of students hit 220,988, an uptick of 5.9% over the previous year. Both numbers were record highs.

Ever since the number of students exceeded the 20,000 mark in 1980, it has increased yearly except in 1986. In 1992, more than 100,000 students visited Okinawa, and the figure soared to a 200,000 record level in 1997. For schools, the number was 127 in 1980, after which it increased favorably to about 1000 in 1997.

High school students make up 83.1% of the total, junior high schoolers 11.4%, and technical school students comprising 1.8%. According to numbers by geographical area, schools from the Kanto Area made up 35.7 %, the Kinki Area was next with 23.5%, and the Chubu Area of Japan had 15.6%. Tokyo (149 schools) topped all areas, second was Osaka (84), and Kanagawa (75) was third.

The most common length of visit was four days (60%) in the time period concentrated in the three months from October to December. The Okinawa Convention Visitors Bureau, commenting about the school trip season, said that it would be important to promote school trips throughout the year. There yet has been any report made of school visiting from abroad, but there are plans to survey schools from Taiwan and Korea.

Its for the birds

For the first time under human care, an Okinawan native bird specie, the Yambarukuina, was able to lay six eggs at the nature preserve Neopark in Nago City. Four of the six eggs, found from August 8th through the 17th, were put in an incubator. Designated a national natural monument, the specie of Okinawan rail is facing the danger of extinction. Researchers pointed out that the incubation would provide additional significant data to attempt artificial breeding which may be required in the near future.

The eggs were laid by one of two rails now being cared for in the preserve. Both were found injured in Kunigami Village four years ago.

The first egg was found broken in the breeding cage on the 8th. The second one was also broken, most probably by the rails, which led zoo officials to decide on removing the next egg from the cage. Four additional eggs were found on the 13th to 17th, and were placed into an incubator. Since the the sex of either rail has not been identified, the eggs may be unfertilized. The zoo succeeded in incubating eggs of other rails brought from outside last year July.

"Okinawan rails can become extinct anytime now," Kiyoaki Ozaki of the Yamashima Bird Institute stresses. "We may need to conduct artificial breeding in the near future. However, we only have limited information on the birds. Data from this incubation attempt, like how long it takes, will be a step forward."

m"Nirai" Peoplen(24)
The Diaries of Chobyo Yara

The main purpose of this series, Nirai People, is to introduce people who will lead Okinawa into the next century. Although Mr. Yara has passed away, his legacy still remains, and the problems he had to deal with have not found solution. Therefore, his thoughts on Okinawan base issues are still, and will be, of vital importance.

A collection of diaries of the late Chobyo Yara, former Chief Executive of the Government of the Ryukyu Islands and the first governor of Okinawa Prefecture after reversion, was discovered in the home of his eldest son on August 14. Chobyo Yara was the so]called father of the Okinawa Reversion Movement. During his lifetime he organized the teachers' union and became its chairman in 1953. He also organized the federation of groups seeking Okinawan reversion to Japan from the U.S. Military Administration. The period of time covered by the diaries was from April, 1953 when he chaired the Okinawa Teachers' Union through June, 1976 when he ended public office.

His diaries are considered excellent firsthand materials in the research of post]war Okinawan history. They present an Okinawan leader's personal feelings and observations on Okinawan issues that carry on to this day.

News Shorts

It's a big ocean

The 11th District Maritime Safety Agency based at the Naha New Port will have extra work cut out for it as it prepares to guard Japan's southernmost ocean borders for next year's Kyushu]Okinawa Summit. To help the Naha Branch patrol the vast ocean frontier and aid it in search and save activities, it will be getting a 3,300 ton ship loaded with a helicopter, one of only eleven in Japan. The patrol vessel, the 105]meter long Ryukyu, will have a top speed of about 41 kilometers per hour.

The 11th District is expecting that next year will be a ripe time for activists, both from Taiwan and mainland China, to try to land on the Senkaku Islands to lay claim on them for their respective nations. The Senkakus lie to the northwest of Ishigaki Island, and have been a bone of contention between China, Taiwan, and Japan in recent decades, one likely factor causing friction being the mineral wealth that may lie under them.

The 11th District is now on 24]hour patrol everyday. As of August 8, they had already identified sixteen ships from either Taiwan or mainland China plying the waters of their patrol area.

Copyright; 1999 Okinawa Times. All Rights Reserved.