Okinawa, Japan Feb. 28 Wed 11:30AM
Remembering Those Lost
In late March 1945, the Main Island of Okinawa was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The battle raged for three months. It destroyed cultural legacies, the landscape of Okinawa, and most importantly, it claimed the lives of 240,000 - and the civilian deaths far outweighed military deaths in the Battle of Okinawa.
Okinawa experienced the devastation brought on by war, and thus there are peace memorials in Okinawa that are a vital part of Okinawan culture today.
Okinawa Peace Memorial Park
The main memorial is the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, which is a vital reminder about the battle itself, and the recovery of Okinawa and its people. Much like the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, the memorial serves to remind people about the horrors of war and the atrocities that can stem from it in an effort to promote peace. The museum is located on Mabuni Hill, the last site of the battle where many lives were lost. Inside, there are many artifacts from the battle as well as many photographs. Within the zone of the museum holds many other memorials including Okinawa Peace Hall and the National War Dead Peace Mausoleum.
Himeyuri Peace Museum and Memorial
Located near to the Peace Memorial Museum is another very famous and well known memorial museum, the Himeyuri Peace Museum and Memorial. This museum and memorial remembers the fate of female students and some teachers who were forced into aiding in the war as nursing staffs, and worked in caves and army field hospitals under terrible circumstances. 19 of the women did not survive due to the circumstances during their time working. But just days before the end of the war, the women were dismissed from working due to the advancement of the US troops. During this time, the students and teachers were left to fend for themselves. Many more women died at this point due to circumstances of the war including being caught in the middle of battle and committing suicide due to the uncertainty of Japanese surrender. The women were mainly high school students.
Although the two aforementioned are the two better known memorial sites of Okinawa, there are many more memorials and some more historically relevant war sites around the island. Throughout the beautiful island of Okinawa are some harsh reminders of war, and beautiful monuments and buildings erected to symbolize peace in light of the dark history. Places like the Former Navy Underground Headquarters also serves as a reminder of the atrocities of the war- many sailors committed suicide here towards the end of the battle.
These memorials, museums, and battle sites are an important part of Japanese and world history. Although tragic and dark, through the memories of the deceased and of the survivors, the message that is trying to be spread of peace is a positive one. If you decide to travel to Okinawa, these are places we recommend visiting.