Okinawa, the unfinished war and the shadow of occupation
NAKAZATO Isao (Translated by Mon WONG)
In an opinion poll among Okinawa residents, a question is raised as towhich can be viewed as the most important incidents in Okinawa’s modern and contemporary history. The incidents rated as top one and twoare respectively the Battle of Okinawa and the Occupation of US military force. These two incidents are like the two centers within an oval that have become the latent power of the Okinawans’ historical consciousness.
The Battle of Okinawa, dubbed by American war correspondences as ‘the ultimate of ugliness’, was the ultimate realization of the absolute Japanization (Kominka) and assimilated education through the ‘annexation of the Ryukyus’ in 1879 that forced Ryukyu to be annexed to Japan. The Battle of Okinawa was not only the ‘jetty stone’ for protecting the Emperor System and the State System, it also dragged many residents into the battle which led to the deaths of one fourth of them. Furthermore, the violent nature of colonialism manifested concretely through the Japanese Army’s treatment of Okinawa residents --anyone who was suspected of being spies would be brutally killed, kicked out of shelters or forced to commit massive suicide. Those who survived the Battle of Okinawa, the so called ‘Typhoon of Steel’, when faced with the realization of having survived, regarded themselves as ‘the leftovers of those were swallowed under the gunship fires.’ By this expression, it is not hard to understand that that particular battle did not only physically destroyed Okinawa, but also left deep scars in the minds of its people.
Isao Nakazato 仲里効was born on a small island called ‘Minami Daito-jima’ in 1947, graduated from Hosei University with a degree in sociology. He is a professional writer, photographer, screenwriter, and also a chief editor of a quarterly, EDGE. He has so far published several books in Japanese including Okinawan Beat (1992), Round Border (1999), Okinawa, the Edege of Image (2007), and Photo-nesia: The Eyes' Tropic of Cancer, Okinawa (2009).
Mon Wong is a free-lance translator.