Town needs to work to preserve Tanabaru Field Hospital Shelter

Town needs to work to preserve Tanabaru Field Hospital Shelter

On June 11, in front of Tanabaru Shelter in Onaga, Nishihara, Chobin Negawa (left) talked about the hospital shelter. Zensei Takeasu (center) and Saburo Tamanaha are keen to see preservation and repair work carried out.

June 23, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

In June 2013, rocks falls inside the Tanabaru Shelter in Nishihara highlight the urgent need to carry out preservation work.

The local education board and a volunteer group for recovering war remains are searching inside the shelter, which the Imperial Japanese Army used as a field hospital during the Battle of Okinawa. There is no specific schedule for the preservation and repair work, but those involved commented that they want the municipal government to move as soon as possible to preserve the shelter.

Documents held by the town state that the shelter was built in Onaga in February 1945 for the 11th Independent Infantry Battalion stationed in the area. The battalion belonged to the 62nd Division. The army put 15 women living in Nishihara in the shelter as auxiliary nurses until dismissing them in May. Chobin Negawa, 80, who owns a field in front of the shelter, said, “Even now fingers bones appear when we plough the field. After the war we dug pits to bury many people who died in the shelter.”

Zensei Takaesu, who belongs to the volunteer group for recovering war remains, searched to find the shelter construction. It is built in the shape of an “E” with a tunnel over 60 meters long connected to 20 meter pathways running parallel from three entrances.

Takaesu said that you could find things from war in the shelter. However, rocks are falling all though it, making investigation a dangerous task.

A member of the local government said, “We do not have a clear schedule for preserving the shelter. But because of our stance on the promotion of peace we will consider this in future.”

Takaesu said, “We are able to return things to bereaved family members if the person’s full name is on it.” He went on to say, “We cannot preserve the shelter without help from the local government.”

Saburo Tamanaha, 71, who serves as a history guide in the town, said, “I want the local government to carry out the preservation work as soon as possible.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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