Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Masahide Ota: "The war is still going on for the people in Okinawa."

Today Okinawans commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa, an ongoing battle for their island they are now fighting against former enemies who killed 90,000 Okinawan civilians and who refuse to leave.

Former Governor Masahide Ota describes the situation and collective feelings of Okinawans in this eloquent essay published in Magazine 9, "The war is still going on for the people of Okinawa."
After World War II, when I was released from the internment camp, I went around collecting the remains of my friends and teachers who died in the war.
I couldn’t forget about my suffering in the war and the internment camp, and I often woke up from nightmares.
My body and soul were totally worn out, and I didn’t feel like doing anything.
That continued for a whole year, I think.

But one day, a teacher of mine showed me the new constitution, asking, “Have you read this?”
That was in 1947. The constitution read, ”…the Japanese people forever renounce war, and military forces will never be maintained“.
Upon reading this, I was deeply impressed, feeling, “Ah, we will be free from war forever”.
This constitution gave me the power to live.

I can never forget how impressed I was.
That’s why I cannot let anybody change Article 9.
Under no circumstances will I ever agree to changing to changing Article 9.

The younger generation knows nothing about how dreadful war is.
I can’t blame them their lack of experience, but I do feel they should study more.
Even newspaper reporters don’t know what war is actually like.
I fear that the media is changing and becoming dangerous.

In Okinawa, many people who went through extreme conditions under the war are even now experiencing extreme anxiety and depression.
The remains of 4000-5000 dead Okinawans have yet to be collected.
Unexploded bombs are all over, without being treated.
Some experts says that it will take 50-60 more years to complete the treatment of unexploded bombs of the battles in Okinawa.
Not only that, even after the war, at least 5200 Okinawans have been the victims of crimes committed by American soldiers.

Thus the war is still going on for the people in Okinawa.
Why shall we start preparing for a new war, while the old war is not over yet?

I truly don’t understand.

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