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New Battle of Okinawa book slammed by WWII veterans

Date Posted: 2005-08-17

Author Kensaburo Oue wrote a book about the Battle of Okinawa.

The documentary style tome said “orders from a Japanese military officer that Kerama Archipelago residents want self determination and suicide” has spawned demands it be recalled from bookstore shelves.

A captain of the Zamami Island Garrison, Japanese officer Hiroshi Umezawa, denies the book’s charge. “It was not ordered from Japanese military officers,” he said. “We didn’t give any order to them (Zamami residents) to kill themselves. It was done by themselves, the Zamami residents. Who had determination to commit suicide.”

Umezawa says “it is defamation to the Japanese military and to us.” The former officer has taken the writer and the book’s publisher, Iwanami Book Shop, to court. He’s demanding publication be stopped, and corrections be made. He is also asking Y20 million in damages for Japanese soldiers.

Another officer, Oshitsugu Akamatsu, was responsible for Tokashiki Island residents. The Japanese military leader is dead, but his younger brother, Hideichi, is joining the cry against the book and author Oue. “It’s wrong,’ says Akamatsu. “It was in April 1945, and American military guys came to both islands and attacked the people. Residents were hiding, fearful of becoming prisoners. They didn’t want to be prisoners and would rather commit suicide.”

Zamami and Tokashiki weren’t the only islands in the Ryukyu chain were local population committed suicides during the Battle of Okinawa. There were others who single mindedly made the decision.

Former officers say they’re upset with the negative charges. “We never gave orders to residents,” said one.

The book’s author sayshe “didn’t get even one of these former officers. I don’t know what they’re talking about. No details.” Iwanami Book Shop, which published the book, says they’ve not received letters either, but promised to investigate if they do.

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