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Locals protest public display of war relics

Date Posted: 2006-05-05

A World War II cannon sits in front of the Nishihara Town library.

Torpedos are on display at the Sashiki Town Senior Citizens Center.

Battle of Okinawa ordnance is on display at the Peace Memorial Park Information Center in Itoman.

All of “These displays are kind of dangerous for the future of children’s education,” says Professor Masaya Ishihara. “It’s giving children a strong impression of war, or war rules, or fighting battles.” The professor, together with dozens of Nishihara Town residents, are lobbying against displaying the former Japanese Army weapon. Town Mayor Masaki Arakaki, when the cannon was found at a construction site in Nishihara Town, thought “It’s good to display at the front of the Library main door.” He said the ¥1,400,000 construction cost was worth it, because it would provide visitors with awareness of peace promotion. Residents disagree. “I’m afraid to see this,” said one youngster. “Why is the cannon at the door,” asked another.

Ozato Village Agriculture Center has cannons too, and a director says “It’s for learning and educating about peace.

Many are saying the weapons make “it look like worship of war, and promotion of power.” They don’t like it, and are voicing opposition to the weapons across Okinawa. “Sixty years ago there was a war, and there are bad memories,” said a senior citizen. “We are hurt and don’t want constant reminders of those pressures of war.” Elderly citizens are calling for the cannons and other weapons to be removed from public places, but Nishihara Town’s mayor is standing firm.

“Town people need to have a peace awareness and keep the promise of peace in front of them,” he says. “We need to have displays because we want everyone to research, touch and check about the past, and to learn about history and what our ancestors have done.”

Professor Ishihara is strongly opposed to that thinking. “Peoples’ viewpoints have been changing, and they look at the cannon as a military weapon for military purposes. They don’t see peace.”

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