161 college students from outside of Okinawa engaged in collecting remains of war dead
February 19, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On February 18, 161 college students belonging to a non-profit organization, International Volunteer University Student Association (IVUSA), collected remains from the Battle of Okinawa in the Kuniyoshi district of Itoman. Skulls and thigh bones that seemed to belong to the war dead were unearthed. The students finished collecting the remains on February 20. The IVUSA began its involvement in the recovery of remains from the Battle of Okinawa in 2010. This is the fourth time that the organization has worked on the project, and the largest number of students that has taken part.
Students from Kanto, Kansai, and Kyushu took part. They learned about the Battle of Okinawa at the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park on February 16. The next day, the participants heard to Kuniyoshi village’s story from former high school teacher Sojun Taira and then worked on collecting the remains. The students checked the weight and feel of the remains unearthed. They joined their hands in prayer for the war dead.
Yuka Arai of Doshisha University said, “Each and every one of the bones immersed in the soil weighed differently. It made me think about those who died.”
Hiroki Takeuchi of Ryukoku University took part in the project, continuing his involvement from last year. Takeuchi said, “Even though we finish collecting the remains, it does not mean the recovery of the war dead is complete. The bereaved family members need to receive them. We were just engaged in unearthing the remains. I thought about the significance of recovering the war dead of Okinawa.”
Seventy-seven-year old Isamu Kuniyoshi, who has been working on the recovery of the war dead for a long time, and Aomori resident Tetsuji Hamada and his wife Ritsuko, who come to Okinawa every year to work on collecting the remains, supported the participants.
(English translation by T&CT)
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