Peace Memorial Museum reopens with few visitors, dampened active peace education

Peace Memorial Museum reopens with few visitors, dampened active peace education

Visitors keep a distance from each other inside the Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum. Photographed on May 21, in Itoman City.

May 22, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Peace Memorial Museum in Itoman City, Okinawa, reopened its doors on May 21. The museum has been temporarily closed on-and-off since mid March, due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Group tours of the permanent exhibition will be unavailable at this time, to prevent the “3Cs”—closed spaces, crowds, and close proximity. The daily average visitor last May was approximately 1,455 but turnout was drastically low on reopening day. Just one month before Okinawa Memorial Day, COVID-19 may dampen active peace education imparting the history of WWII.

“Please keep at least 2 meters apart,” a museum worker instructed as he ripped tickets. The visitors are asked to wear masks, disinfect hands upon entry, and to stay 2 meters apart.

7-year-old Yurika Miyagi visited from Ginowan City with her mother and grandmother on reopening day. “I wanted to learn [the history],” she said shyly. The family anticipated a low turnout and decided to visit the museum, just a day before Yurika’s new-student orientation at school.

In the exhibition rooms, the emergency doors were left open and group tours were cancelled to prevent the “3Cs”. The Memorial Hall and other large conference rooms used for peace education lectures will be closed until May 31. This may continue after June, depending on the situation.

Once group tours resume, the museum is expecting to set a maximum number of visitors allowed in each exhibition, to prevent crowding.

Hiromu Ohmine, the museum’s lead curator, hopes to provide opportunities to learn about the Battle of Okinawa with the educational kits and video materials he created. The kits are available in the museum, and schools are able to rent them for classroom use. Ohmine said, “Anytime is a good time to ponder peace.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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