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Survivors Share War Experiences at Okinawa Battle Memorial - June 23, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

From: Hawai`i Okinawa Alliance
Contact: Pete Shimazaki Doktor, (808) 735-3499 or (808) 782-0023, or dok (at) riseup.net
Date: June 17, 2007

MEDIA ADVISORY

SURVIVORS SHARE WAR EXPERIENCES AT OKINAWA BATTLE MEMORIAL

WHAT: War survivors will share testimonies of the 62nd anniversary of bloodiest battle in the Pacific, the Battle of Okinawa, when approximately a quarter million lives, largely civilian, were lost.

WHEN: Saturday, June 23, 2007, 10am ~ noon; doors open at 9:30am for film & displays

WHERE: 1731 N. School Street (& Likelike Hwy.); Honolulu, Hawai`i; 96819.

BACKGROUND: Irei no Hi, roughly translated as “Day to Console the Spirits,” is an Okinawan “memorial day” to honor the war dead of all nationalities in the tragic 1945 battle where almost one-third of the Okinawans were killed. Recognized only in Okinawa, Irei no Hi is becoming an annual event now in its third year in O`ahu, organized by the Hawai`i Okinawa Alliance, a grassroots solidarity peace organization between Okinawa and Hawai`i. Every year on June 23, Okinawa prefecture commemorates the end of the battle and reflects on the sacredness of life, the primacy of peace and the futility of war.

War survivor Yoshiko Oshiro Sickles will share her experience of war from the eyes of a child, as will Robert Kishaba, who was inducted into the Japanese Imperial military as a teen with roots both in the USA and Okinawa. There will also be rare video footage from the war, a photo display, historical background and live music in this non-religious event.

As the generation of survivors shrinks, it becomes increasingly critical to remember such history, particularly at a time when the Japanese government has caused recent controversy by censoring such war atrocities from school textbooks. Every year, memorial attendees praise the event and regret not bringing more family and friends to bare witness to this important testimony and historical narrative, in which more people died than in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedies combined. While this human catastrophe has shaped the character of the Okinawan people, it is hardly “an Okinawa issue,” but an international and human one, given the omnipresence of war today. A peace memorial in Okinawa honors all those who lost their lives in the gruesome battle, including names of all nationalities and backgrounds: Okinawan civilians, American and Japanese soldiers, Korean conscripts, Allied POWs and various other nationalities. The event is free and there is plenty parking.

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