Ourasaki Memorial Service at Henoko; prayers for war dead

Ourasaki Memorial Service at Henoko; prayers for war dead

Participants praying for the war victims in front of the US Camps Schwab, Henoko, Nago City.

June 23, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

A memorial service for people who died in the Ourasaki internment camp right after the Battle of Okinawa was held in front of the gate of Camp Schwab, the US military base in Henoko, Nago City on June 23. The internment camp was located in Camp Schwab.

Approximately 100 citizens who are participating in the sit-in protest offered incense and prayed for the victims at an altar set up at the sit-in tent in front of the gate.

The memorial service was held for the first time last year. Representative of volunteer group Gamafuya, which retrieves the remains of the war dead, Takamatsu Gushiken, explained that residents of Motobu Peninsula and Ie Village were contained at the Ourasaki internment camp area and many of them died because of malaria and starvation between June and October of 1945. According to documents Gushiken gathered from the prefectural government, 304 people have been reported as dead in “Ourasaki” or “Oura” by bereaved families. However, it is believed more people have actually died in Ourasaki.

Gushiken stressed, “The residents were shut off from the area due to construction of the base soon after the war in 1957. It is highly likely that many remains are still left untouched. I would like to directly negotiate with the US military about entering the area to collect the remains.”

The participants at the sit-in put their hands together and prayed for the war victims including those whose remains are not yet to be retrieved.

Seventy-four-year old Yoshiyasu Iha, who is a representative of “Okuma River Basin Protection Foundation” and who also planned the event emphasized, “It is disrespectful to the victims that the governments of Japan and the United States would construct and keep the bases at a place where many bones might still remain today.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)

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