Peace prayers for Tsushima Maru Victims at Memorial Service on the Ocean
August 6, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
Kiyoshi Uehara, an 81-years old survivor from the Tsushima Maru ship that was sunk in 1944 by the US military while carrying school children evacuating the expected battle, conducted a memorial service on the ocean. The ceremony was conducted around the offshore Uken village, Amami Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture, where many bodies of the victims drifted to. Tomihiko Matsui vice Mayor of Uken village put a lantern in the water as a prayer offering for the victims. This is the first time Amami Oshima has held a memorial ceremony for the Tsushima Maru on the ocean.
One week after the ship was sunken around the Akuseki Island in Tokara archipelago on April 22 in 1944, many survivors and the bodies of victims drifted to the west shore of Amami Oshima. One hundred and five bodies washed up on Yakeuchi Bay at Uken village.
Uehara put a lantern on a bamboo-made small boat with incense sticks during the ceremony on August 5. One thousand paper cranes made by students at Kainan Elementary School in Naha city, as well as snacks and toys were put together.
Uehara shared his thoughts.
“I’ve been longing to pray for the departed souls, but I feel very sorry that it took 71 years. I want to continue to tell people never to go to a war again,” he said.
After searching a rocky area at Imazato in Yamato village, Uehara was able to confirm the approximate area where he drifted 71 years ago. He also visited the Funakoshi beach where the village is planning to build a memorial monument. Uehara plans to visit Imazato in Yamato village on August 6.
(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)
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