More than 400 people attend memorial service held for victims of Tsushima-Maru tragedy
August 23, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
August 22 marked 70 years since the evacuation ship Tsushima-Maru carrying many school children was sunk by a U.S. submarine. At a memorial service held at the Kozakura-no-To monument in Wakasa, Naha, about 450 people, including survivors and bereaved families took part. They released rice paper butterflies into the sky as they prayed for the victims and for peace.
In his memorial address, Masakatsu Takara, president of the Tsushima-Maru Memorial Foundation referred to the fact the number of the living survivors and bereaved families has been decreasing from year to year.
He talked about plans to use movies and teaching training to pass on the tragedy to future generations. Takara said, “We would like to further develop the Tsushima-maru Memorial Museum.”
In her speech, the chairwoman of Bereaved Families of Okinawa Prefecture War Dead Joint Association Naeko Teruya said, “The emotional wounds of the bereaved families remain unhealed. We would like to do our best to not let horrible wars ever occur again.”
Members of a choir, formed by pupils belonging to the elementary schools which had victims of the tragedy, sang songs such as Song of Kozakura-no-To to pray for peace.
Eighty-one-year-old Hisako Kishimoto, who was evacuated to Kagoshima Prefecture when the tragedy happened, expressed sympathy to the victims and took part in the memorial service. She said, “Before evacuating Miyazaki Prefecture, I saw children wrapped in bandages. Later, I knew that they were survivors of the tragedy.” Kishimoto continued, “I want to pray for the repose of the souls of those who were in my generation and lost their lives in the tragedy.”
Eighty-six-year-old Shosuke Shiroma, who lost his sister Takako in the tragedy, visited the memorial service and museum with his eldest daughter Kaori Nakamatsu and grandchild. Shiroma said, “After my sister died, my mother was standing in front of a family altar, crying. I guess that she felt pain and couldn’t express her feeling to anybody because my father was already dead.” Nakamatsu who attended the memorial service for the first time, said, “I would like to continue to take part in the service to pass on the tragedy to future generations on behalf of my father.”
On August 21, 1944, an unmarked Japanese passenger-cargo ship carrying hundreds of schoolchildren Tsushima-Maru left Naha Port for Nagasaki Prefecture. At 10:23 p.m. on August 22, the submarine USS Bowfin sank the ship, killing 1,485 people (names identified).
(English translation by T&CT)
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