The Old Man, the Cave & the Battle Of Okinawa remembered today & everyday

Can World Peace Begin From Chibichirigama Cave in Okinawa?

When the Japanese Imperial Army warned the Okinawans that the US troops would rape and murder them, they were not incorrect. These heinous crimes have been committed for over seven decades and most of the outside world does not know about it.

Here is the whole story from then to now

On June 23rd, it marks the 73rd anniversary of the Battle Of Okinawa. It is a day that many Okinawans remember the consequences of war that occurred in the three-month Battle which began April and ended on June 22, 1945, when the commanding general Mitsuru Ushijima who in the final stages of the battle, committed suicide.

In Namihira District of Yomitan Village,  there is a cave called Chibichirigama. The subject of this cave, was taboo and the story surrounding it goes back to April 1945 when the American troops first advanced upon the island shore.

The story tells how the Japanese Imperial Army had warned the Okinawans that if they were captured by the American soldiers, then they would be raped, mutilated and murdered and that it was a far greater honor to die by their own hands. For that reason, poison and grenades were given to the villagers.

When the US troops drew nearer the villagers fled to caves to hide. As the soldiers approached this one particular cave called Chibichirigama, they ordered the villagers to surrender. Some of the villagers tried to defend themselves but were killed by the troops. In seeing this, a mass suicide took place and it is reported that out of the 140 villagers that hid in Chibichirigama cave, 84 of them died.

However, not every villager did this. Nariko Oshiro an Okinawan woman of post war generation spoke about another cave called Shimikugama about 200 meters distance from Chibichirigama. “There is a monument at the entrance of the Shimuku cave that tells the story about two men Heiji Higa and his nephew Heizo Higa, and how they saved the villagers that were also hiding with them in the cave of Shimikugama.

When ordered by the US troops to surrender, the two men who had once worked in Hawaii and spoke English, were able to understand the US troops commands and advised their fellow villagers to surrender. As a result, their lives were spared.” she said. “I think that the comparison of these two caves is a message relevant to society today. Do not be preoccupied of thinking of others as an enemy.”

The Chibichirigama cave also has monuments and sculptures made by Okinawa’s most renowned sculptor at the site of the wartime mass suicide. Relatives of these Okinawans who died have continued to pray for their ancestors and take care of the caves.

However, in September, 2017 acts of vandalism were discovered and four teenage boys aged 16 to 19 confessed to destruction of two signboards at the site and some items for worship of the wartime victims inside the cave. The fact that these teenagers did not understand the sacredness of their own history was a catalyst for change and now more people are visiting the site.

Kinjo said, “June 23rd is the Memorial Day for The Battle of Okinawa. So many people were killed in the war and over 241,000 lives were lost. In order to eradicate war, it is imperative that we need to teach more about human rights awareness. This generation must refuse taking the path to war. In the past people were indifferent to human rights, people act with ignorance and irresponsibility. This must change and I hope it can begin with these teenage boys who vandalized such a sacred part of our village. I also hope that our island will be returned to us; to the Okinawans.”

“Even though the lives of the other village people were saved at the Shimikugama cave, rapes and murders committed by US military personnel have been nonstop even after the war ended.” Kinjo said.

The ramifications of war still linger and crimes committed by US military personnel have occurred since the war began.

US Military bases still exist on this small island  which is only 67 miles long and 2-17 miles wide. With seven US Marine camps ~ Courtney, Foster, Lester, Kinser, Hansen, Schwab, and Futenma. Then there is also Kadena Air Base, Torii Station (Army) and White Beach (Navy).

When the Japanese Imperial Army warned the Okinawans that the US troops would rape and murder them, they were not incorrect. These heinous crimes have been committed for over seven decades and most of the outside world does not know about it.

However, when I was raped by a navy serviceman in 2002, I could not keep silent even though the subject of rape has always been taboo in society, just the same as the mass suicide was taboo. But I decided, no matter how hard it was for me, I would use my voice for those who are voiceless and became the first woman in Japan to break the silence of being a rape victim and that was in front of over 6000 people. The crowd was in tears, as I broke my silence in a powerful message spoken in Japanese.

I, like so many others remember the horrors of war and sexual assault and I continue my peaceful protest and activities standing  in solidarity with all others,  regardless of race, gender, age or who fell prey to crime; for those who had their innocence taken away from them.

I am a defender of Justice; an Empowertarian. I feel there is hope. I do not give up. I am Jane

I met Mr Minoru Kinjo when I broke that silence from being raped almost two decades ago. Mr Kinjo was very proud of me, he said, and told me that he would be my adopted grandfather and made me part of the Okinawan family. I am also very proud of Mr Kinjo Minoru, the most famous sculptor in Okinawa and how he uses his talents and his heart, to reach the world through his masterpieces.

Perhaps from this small cave with the origami folded paper cranes that grace the entrance to the canes and the sculptures of 80-year-old, Mr Minoru Kinjo; my grandfather and the latest addition of the Buddhist statues he made together with the four teenage boys that once took to vandalism, it may bring change. Perhaps on the small island of Okinawa, as the mass suicide victims and others who survived are remembered by the Okinawan villagers there will be many people standing in solidarity with them around the globe who echo with them, with us, the message of the great desire for everlasting world peace.

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