2017: The Emperor's Army and Okinawa

The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus,  Volume 15 | Issue 11 | Number 2 | Jun 01, 2017
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus

The Emperor’s Army and Japan’s Discrimination against Okinawa

Satoko Oka Norimatsu

On April 25, Okinawa’s governor Onaga Takeshi held a press conference in response to the start of the construction of retaining walls by the Japanese government in Oura Bay, off the coast of Henoko, on the Northeastern shore of Okinawa Island.1 (http://apjjf.org/#_edn1)

Many recognized this as the official launch of construction of the new Marine base. Onaga’s angry remark that the state was “throwing ‘suteishi’ (riprap) into the ocean without sufficient explanation to Okinawa” invoked a painful association with the Battle of Okinawa, the last land battle in the Pacific theatre of WWII. Between late March and early July 1945, the Japan-U.S. battle took 120,000 lives of the more than 460,000 residents of the island prefecture.2 (http://apjjf.org/#_edn2)

Okinawan people subsequently used the term “sute-ishi,” or sacrificial stone, to describe the nature of the battle, meaning that Japan sought to prolong the war at the sacrifice of Okinawans to buy time for the Imperial Headquarters to prepare for the U.S. land invasion of the Japanese mainland. Now, seventy-two years later, “sute-ishi” is used again to describe the assault against the sea, whose bounty provided food for the local residents to survive the deadly battle. ....

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