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Testimony in Battle of Okinawa mass suicides case confusing

Date Posted: 2007-09-13

Witnesses began appearing before a Naha court this week in a lawsuit aimed at blocking publication of a book that denies Japanese military officers ordered citizens to commit mass suicides during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

A witness told the court it would have been impossible for mass suicides to have been accomplished without having been ordered by a military commander. The testimony contradicts Kenzaburo Oe, who writes in a new book that the concept is wrong. Oe believes Japanese officers did not order the deaths, a contention challenged by Okinawans who survived the battle.

The lawsuit seeks to block publication of Nobel Prize author Oes book. Oes attorneys say the witness testimony contradicts known evidence as to what happened on Okinawa during the battle, which raged three months in Spring 1945.

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