OPG moving to designate 32nd Army Headquarters Shelter as cultural asset

March 7, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Superintendent of the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education Hiroshi Oshiro commented on March 6 that the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) is to consider designating the former 32nd Army Headquarters Shelter as a cultural asset. Oshiro was replying to a question from Osamu Toguchi of the Communist Party at a regular meeting of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly. He said, “In the context of the Battle of Okinawa, we recognize the former 32nd Army Headquarters Shelter as an important site. We want to move to designate it as a cultural asset.”

Currently, the OPG Department of Environmental and Community Affairs, which is in charge of the maintenance of the shelter created under Shuri Castle during the Battle of Okinawa, has been investigating the nature of the soil at the site. At the same time, the Okinawa Prefecture Archeological Center is carrying out research on sites of World War II historical significance in the prefecture. Based on investigations being carried out by related organizations, the OPG is considering how it might best maintain the shelter. If it is designated as a cultural property, the department responsible for managing this matter will change, and the OPG will be required to preserve the site under the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties.

According to the Cultural Assets Section of the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education, the procedures for accreditation of cultural assets will need to be deliberated on by a council of experts, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs will also need to be consulted. This needs to happen after fiscal 2014, when the Prefecture Archeological Center completes its survey.

With regard to progress on the research, a staff member of the Cultural Assets Section said, “Inside the shelter there are the locations where there is a lack of oxygen and where there are rock falls, but we are investigating how far we can safely enter. We will continue to do this as we consult with relevant experts.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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