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Students long on peace study, But know little about Okinawa

Date Posted: 2005-06-24

Okinawa high school students know that war is a bad thing, but have many have no idea about the Battle of Okinawa.

Fully 90% of students surveyed say it is important to learn about all history, including the struggles that have made nations rise and fall, but half could not say when the Battle of Okinawa took place. ‘Don’t know’ was the answer for 16.8%, while another 15.2% guessed more than 50-55 years ago. The survey was taken by the High School Teachers Association.

The teens didn’t know about Okinawa’s historical connection with mainland Japan during World War II, and more than two-thirds didn’t know that local women had been used as comfort women servicing the Japanese military. Teachers are trying to ingrain the evils of all war to the students, but only 28% knew that soldiers used local women for sex.

Teaches Association Representative Toshiaki Shinjo says “students must know about war. How did the Okinawa war start? How did it go?” Teachers want to be sure students understand peace, but also the economic situations of both peace and war.

Asked what June 23rd signified, only 29.5% knew it is the day the Battle of Okinawa ended. They did recall the historical hari kari, ritual suicide, by General Mitsuru Ushijima, commander of Japanese forces on Okinawa when he realized the battle was lost. A total of 240,000 Okinawans, Japanese, Americans and allied persons lost their lives in the battle. They’re memorialized at Peace Prayer Park in Itoman.

Every Japanese school is teaching how bad war is, and some teachers are going further, instilling students with a false view of American military forces. Most teachers, officials sa, are biased and prejudiced against the U.S. military and often distort their role in Okinawa’s post-war reconstruction.

Parents are often opposed to the teachers’ teachings, and educators are quick to react. “We must teach kids what is truth. What did Okinawan women do for Japanese military. It’s really a shame the things they did.” They acknowledged the women’s actions were forced, and not voluntary, but refuse to change their positions, leaving people wondering whether they want to know about history.

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