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Peace Torch Relay to begin Saturday rally

Date Posted: 2007-09-27

A Peace Torch Relay from Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City to a Ginowan City meeting place will kick off Saturday’s massive rally protesting government-ordered textbook changes about suicides during the World War Two Battle of Okinawa.

Dozens of runners—elementary school children, Assembly members, chairmen of each of the Prefecture’s 45 municipalities, city mayors and office workers—will carry torches in two kilometer increments along the 36 kilometer route. “Through this relay,” an organizer for the massive rally set for Ginowan City’s Kaihin Park, “we want to emphasize the authorized opinion of the people” that the historical accounts of suicides ordered by Japanese soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa not be erased from school textbooks. The Ministry of Education has ordered references that Japanese soldiers gave Okinawans hand grenades and told them to commit suicide rather than surrender to American soldiers be deleted from new textbooks being used from next April.

The torch relay will begin at Peace Memorial Park. Torches will be lit from the peace light, and joined by others from Zamami Village where suicides took place, and the Hiroshima Light of Peace and Nagasaki’s Light of Peace. The relay begins at 10:15 a.m., winding its way through towns, villages and countryside along the route to Kaihin Park. The torch bearers will stage a light show as the rally begins.

Thousands of Okinawans, including Okinawa Prefecture Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, are expected to participate in the rally.

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