77 years after compulsory mass-suicide in Tokashiki, descendants pray for peace and against war on behalf of victims

77 years after compulsory mass-suicide in Tokashiki, descendants pray for peace and against war on behalf of victims

A descendant of the compulsory mass-suicide praying at Shiratama no Tou with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren – March 28, Tokashiki

March 29, 2022 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Sanemichi Kinjo


Tokashiki – March 28 marks the 77-year anniversary of the compulsory mass-suicide in Tokashiki, which took place during the Battle of Okinawa, and 40 people comprising residents of the village and descendants of the victims visited Shiratama no Tou to pray for the souls of the victims and stand against war. Due to COVID-19, the memorial service hosted by the village has been cancelled three years in a row, but the town provided incense and offerings, allowing people to come and pray on their own.

On March 27, 1945, the U.S. military landed on Tokashiki Island. At the order of the Japanese Imperial Army, the village residents gathered in a cave in Nishiyama on the northern side of the island, however their refuge was destroyed, and on March 28, 330 people became victims to things such as hand grenades.

Kiyoko Oshiro, 88, originally from Aharen, Tokashiki – now in Itoman, traced her fingers over the names of her grandmother, mother, and siblings, with tears in her eyes. Oshiro was taken to the Nishiyama cave with her family, and was surrounded by the mass-death event in the cave. “I thought I was going to be killed, and afraid I lay next to a corpse and pretended to be dead, which allowed me to survive. However, my mother and sister died. Whenever I come here, I always remember that time.” She comes every year on March 28 to pray. This year, she was accompanied by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “I will visit as long as I am alive,” she says, pinching at the bridge of her nose and staring at the memorial.

Mitsue Arakaki, 73, a peace studies instructor in Tokashiki, came with her granddaughter Kei Uechi, 9, carrying flowers, and asked for “a world at peace” with her eyes closed. “For people our age, the scars of war on the island were still vividly present when we were growing up, and there were many stories from the older children on the island. I want to tell those who passed on that we are working to prevent such a tragic war from happening again.”


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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