The Okinawa Peace Memorial 沖縄戦跡国定公園
The memory of war
The Battle of Okinawa, which took place between June 1 and June 22, 1945, was the last major battle of World War II. It was one of the bloodiest warlike events of the confrontation between Americans and Japanese, with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is in memory of this battle, which left between 150 and 300,000 dead that the Okinawa Peace Memorial was erected.
A memory inscribed in the granite
The Peace Memorial is located in Itoman , a city in the Naha metropolitan area (prefectural capital of the Okinawa archipelago). It was installed in the grounds of the Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum (equivalent to the Hiroshima Memorial Park), on Mabuni Hill, where the Battle of Okinawa was the bloodiest. The place offers a beautiful view overlooking the southern side of the island.
The memorial consists of several concentric arches of black granite blocks, arranged two by two in about ten rows, stelae on which the names of the victims of the battle have been inscribed. A path is laid out between the rows lined with trees to allow the visitor to stroll and read the names. Around it, we find the Okinawa Memorial Museum , the Peace Bell - on which is engraved "Preserve the souls of war victims" - which is rung only during commemorations, as well as the "hall of peace ", a tower of 7 sides inside which was installed the "Statue of the Prayer for Peace", an imposing bronze Buddha 12 meters high. In total, nearly 116 steles were made to commemorate the battle , forming a total length of 2,200 meters.
Read also : UNESCO sites in Okinawa
A monument for all the dead
The memorial was inaugurated on June 23, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa. It should be noted that more than 240,000 names are inscribed on these stelae. In addition to the victims of the Battle of Okinawa, we find the identity of the inhabitants of Okinawa who perished during the 15 years of war; from the Mukden incidents in Manchuria until the signing of the Japanese capitulation on September 2, 1945. Beyond the Japanese names, we find those of American and British soldiers who perished in combat, as well as those of soldiers from the two Koreas and Taiwan. This is indeed a memorial for peace, and not in honor of the Japanese victims alone. The monument is the symbol of a recognition of the universal horror of war and of the efforts to be made to maintain peace. According to the governor of Okinawa at the time, Masahide Ôta, the name of the memorial "cornerstone of peace" would thus be a direct allusion to the treaty of military cooperation between Japan and the United States.
Discover : Iejima