Yunapachiku shelter monument built to commemorate history of forced mass suicide in Ie Island
April 20, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On April 12, an unveiling ceremony was held at the Yunapachiku Shelter in Ie Village where a monument was created to commemorate a forced mass suicide that occurred during the Battle of Okinawa. About 30 people including Mayor Hideyuki Shimabukuro and 80-year-old survivor Chieko Namizato offered incense sticks and made a silent prayer for the war dead.
Quoting from Namizato’s book, the inscription on the monument says, “A tragedy in which about 80 civilians, who were backed into a corner, committed mass suicide with a grenade given to them by the Japanese military.”
In line with Namizato’s wishes, the Village built the monument in March to preserve the memory of the Yunapachiku Shelter tragedy and the miseries of war, and to make an oath against war.
The Japanese military excavated about 15-meters deep and 50-meters long tunnel to build the shelter.
Mayor Shimabukuro said, “It is a sad fact that more than 80 people lost their lives at this place. We should not forget it. We would like to use this monument as a symbol of our aspiration to create a world of peace.”
Recalling the scene in the shelter, Namizato, who was nine years old at that time, could not hold back her tears during the ceremony.
Regarding the building of the monument, she said, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I will live long and keep telling the story of the misery of war.” Following the ceremony, she further said, “My wish came true at 80-years-old. I want to tell my family in heaven to rest in peace.”
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)
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