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Tribute held for Japanese ship sunk 60 years ago

Date Posted: 2004-08-27

August 22, 1944. The Japanese warship Tsushima Maru was patrolling in Pacific waters.

Among the 1,1418 aboard the ship when it was sunk by an American submarine were 826 children, plus their parents and other civilians being taken to safety in the warzone.

Submarine torpedoman U.S. Navy Lieutgenant Arthur Carter says they didn’t know “there were over 826 children on board.” He told the media “if we’d known there were children aboard the warship, we wouldn’t have shot it. We thought it was a standard ship.” He said he “feels so bad that we did kill so many. I wish we’d known.|

The document on the sinking is now showing at the Tsushima Maru Memorial Hall in Naha City’s Wakasa area Asahigaoka Park. The hall opened on August 22nd, the 60th anniversary of the sinking.

Memorial Union organizer Masakatsu Takara remembers “it was the Japanese government that said it’s better to use the warship to let children go to a safe place. But it was wrong. We’ll never forget this accident, because ‘the life is the most important, and we’ll let the world’s people know.’ Please come and see the memorial hall.” Takara says there are pictures and relics of the warship on display.

The Tsushima Maru Memorial is also standing today in Kagoshima Prefecture, Aseki Island, where school children this week cleaned it and offered prayers that there will never be another war.

The children brought 2,000 paper cranes made at Aseki Island school. It took them a month to make, following the proverb that if you make a thousand cranes, any wishes can become true. They are hopeful their 2,000 cranes will fully do the job of preventing war.

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