War artifacts exhibit of Peace Memorial Museum faces difficulty

War artifacts exhibit of Peace Memorial Museum faces difficulty

On June 13, people visited the New Artifacts Exhibit at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum in Mabuni, Itoman.

June 14, 2013 Masaaki Umeda of Ryukyu Shimpo

Every June, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum in Mabuni, Itoman, holds the “New Artifacts Exhibition” to display items that individuals and groups have recently donated. However, because the museum has not received as many items in recent years, it will soon become difficult to hold the exhibition on an ongoing basis. A staff member expressed his concern, saying, “This is a serious problem in terms of passing on memories of the Battle of Okinawa.” One scholar suggested that the museum should consider displaying existing materials from different viewpoints.

The museum could not hold the exhibition last year because they were not able to collect enough items, but by this March they had received enough items from several groups to hold it from June 13.

The museum has a total of about 40,000 war-related materials, which is the most extensive collection in Okinawa. From fiscal year 2004 to 2008, they received 200 to 300 materials and in 2009, the Bereaved Families Association gave the museum about 3,000 items, but the number of new artifacts received has decreased by about 100 every year from 2010 to 2012. This year, the museum is able to hold the exhibition because the non-profit organization One-foot Film Movement, which disbanded in March, provided 107 items. They only received two items this April, so it is uncertain if they will be able to run the exhibition next year.

Chief curator Masaki Higa said, “As the number of precious items that convey the reality of the Battle of Okinawa decreases, researching the war and passing on its memories to the next generation becomes more difficult. We would like to encourage people to donate more materials.”

“Now, in 2013, 68 years after the end of the war, I think it is only natural that donations of new items are decreasing. We need to display existing materials from a fresh viewpoint, as well as trying to collect new items,” said Professor Shinobu Yoshihama, a researcher of the Battle of Okinawa at Okinawa International University.

The exhibition displays 207 precious items, including a tin can (an improvised explosive device) filled with nails. It runs until the end of July and admission is free.

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey) 

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