No-war pledge: families bereaved by mass suicide hold memorial service

No-war pledge: families bereaved by mass suicide hold memorial service

Tokuichi Yonaha and breaved families pray for a “warless, peaceful world” in Namihira, Yomitan Village, on April 6.

April 7, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

Yomitan—the War-Bereaved Families Association (represented by Norio Yonaha) held a memorial service at the Chibichiri Gama cave in Namihira for the 85 people who were forced to commit mass suicide on April 2, 1945, shortly after American troops landed on Okinawa’s main island during the Battle of Okinawa. Approximately 50 visitors, including bereaved families, gathered to honor the victims who took their lives 74 years ago.

The group renewed their pledge to pass down stories of the Battle of Okinawa and the importance of peace.

Families and friends gathered around 1 p.m. to clean up the cave, and made offerings of Okinawan food, flowers and incense to the deceased.

A woman who hid in the cave during the battle as a five-month-old baby used a towel to carefully polish the cenotaph bearing the names of the victims. Yohana’s brother, Tokuichi Yonaha, 76, visited from Tokeshi. They lost five family members including their maternal grandparents. Tokuichi brought his hands together and prayed in the Okinawan dialect: “the country is currently headed towards regaining its ability to fight wars. Help us from repeating the same mistakes.” The group joined, folding their hands in prayer. One visitor shed tears through closed eyes.

“What happened at Chibichiri Gama was a tragedy of war,” said Yonaha, and commented on the ongoing construction of the new base in Henoko, Nago City: “the Bereaved Families Association strongly oppose military installations, which leads to wars.” He pleaded that, “to ensure the deaths of our predecessors were not in vain, we must learn our lesson from history.”

Takuya Yamashiro, 33, leader of the Young Men’s Association of the Yomitan Workers Union, touched on the families’ sentiments and promised to “take what I’ve learned today and pass it down to the next generation with care,” and pledged to renounce the use of war.

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

Go To Japanese


Previous Article:
Next Article:

[Similar Articles]