OPG to interview Okinawan Americans who worked for the U.S. military during the Battle of Okinawa

April 10, 2014 Masatoshi Inafuku of Ryukyu Shimpo

In this fiscal year, the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) will carry out a project to interview and collect the stories of Okinawan Americans who worked for the U.S. military during the Battle of Okinawa.

It will be the first time the government has officially interviewed these Okinawan Americans. Researching in Hawaii, the government plans to interview a maximum of 15 people.

It will screen recorded footage of the interviews at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum in fiscal 2015.

The government will interview Okinawan Americans who served in the US Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during the Battle of Okinawa. It also plans to interview those who declined to pledge loyalty to the United States, and were incarcerated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center.

Okinawan Americans who returned to Okinawa at the time of the Pacific War and ended up fighting for the Japanese Imperial Army will also be interviewed.

After carrying out a preliminary survey in May, the government will interview the subjects and collect their stories around August.

The Okinawan Americans who served in the MIS during the Battle of Okinawa mainly worked on translating Japanese Imperial Army documents and interviewing Japanese prisoners. They also contributed to saving local people’s lives by using Okinawan dialects to call out to those hiding in caves. Although the government has information on local people who came out of hiding and surrendered to US soldiers, it does not have official records of those who called for the local people to do so.

The Japanese Americans who were put in concentration camps were given an ultimatum to fight against Japan when ordered and pledge loyalty to the United States.

But they could not bring themselves to agree to this and were discriminated in the United States, where they were called “no-no boys”.

The Okinawa Prefectural Government chose to pursue the story-gathering project after successfully interviewing Okinawan Americans about the Battle of Okinawa for a special event held at the museum last year.

The project will cost about 15 million yen and will be subsidised by the government.

The government plans to screen recorded footage of the interview, create DVDs and hire them out.

(English translation by T&CT)

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