“Bases should be reduced,” says Rear Admiral Minoru Ota’s great-grandson participating in memorial service with his grandmother

Rear Admiral Minoru Ota's great grandson Dougul Sutherland (right) and his grandmother Akiko, the fourth daughter of the admiral on June 13 at the Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters park in Tomigusuku City.

June 17, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Hideki Matsudo

June 13 marked 72 years since Rear Admiral Minoru Ota, the final commander of the Japanese naval forces defending Okinawa, committed suicide in the underground headquarters. His great-grandson Dougul Sutherland, 23, of Australian nationality, participated for the first time in a memorial service held at the Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters park in Tomigusuku City.

He paid a floral tribute in front of the memorial tower, where an inscription is engraved with Admiral Ota’s final telegram, which reads: “This is how the Okinawa prefecture people have fought the war. I ask that you give them special consideration, in future ages.”

In addition, he stressed that “72 years have passed since the Battle of Okinawa ended. But, U.S. military bases still exist, and the people are forced to bear the burden. The bases should be reduced”

Sutherland is a grandson of the admiral Ota’s fourth daughter Akiko, 85. He was born in Sydney, Australia and is currently on exchange with the Australian National University at Kyoto University.

“When I was about ten years old, I heard about my great grandfather from my grandmother. I was surprised to know that he had fought as a commander and died in Okinawa,” he said.

According to Sutherland, he then began to research the history of the Battle of Okinawa and Okinawa’s postwar history on his own. He wrote a report on the Battle of Okinawa for university.

Akiko has visited Okinawa every year to attend the memorial service and has sometimes gone to Henoko, Nago, where the construction of a new base is underway.
Akiko said, “I do not know if my father is pleased, but I’d like to tell my children and grandchildren about the Battle of Okinawa and the importance of peace.”

“The Battle of Okinawa is so terrible, many residents died. Not only that, but also the accidents and incidents, including the rape case of an Okinawan girl by U.S. soldiers, took place after the war,” Sutherland said. He added, “I ache because many U.S. military bases are still in Okinawa and the people are forced to bear the burden. I want to tell many people about the reality of the Battle of Okinawa and Okinawa.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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