: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: News
Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Osaka court backs Nobel prize winner’s mass suicides essay

Date Posted: 2008-04-04

A law suit demanding that novelist Kenzaburo Oe’s book charging that Japanese soldiers were complicit in the deaths of hundreds of Okinawans during the Battle of Okinawa be banned has been tossed out by the Osaka District Court.

Two Japanese Army commanders on Zamami and Tokashiki Islands during the 1945 battle had sought to have the book banned, claiming there was no evidence the military ever forced Okinawans to commit mass suicide. Elderly Okinawan survivors of the battle have long recounted stories of Japanese Imperial Army soldiers providing Okinawans with hand grenades, telling them to commit suicide rather than permit American soldiers to capture them.

Ironically, the court’s decision backing Oe came on the same day a memorial ceremony for the some 300 who died in Tokashiki Island mass suicides and murder-suicides in late March 1945, several days after American troops landed on the southern Okinawa island.

The ruling by Toshimaka Fukami, the presiding judge on the Osaka court, simply stated “It can be said the military was deeply involved in the mass suicides," rejecting the plaintiffs’ demands Oe and his book publisher, Iwanami Shoten Publishers, stop publication of the 197u0 essay “Okinawa Notes” and pay ¥20 million in damages compensation. Judge Fukami called it “fully presumable” that the garrison commanders were participants.

A former Japanese Imperial Army garrison commander on Zamami Island, Yutaka Umezawa, and Hidekazu Akamatsu, the brother of the commander on Tokashiki Island, had been arguing in their 2005 law suit that Oe’s book presented inhumane descriptions of the commanders on the two islands. The 91-year-old Umezawa and 75-year-old Akamatsu steadfastly maintained Japanese officers played no role in directing or forcing Okinawans to commit mass suicides. They say they’ll appeal the Osaka District Court ruling.

Survivors of the battle, including 86-year-old Jitsuho Murata, who was then a Japanese lieutenant now representing the Okinawans, called the ruling “a defeat for the military and a victory for Okinawa’s citizens.” Murata, who was stationed in Okinawa but away from his post when his family committed murder-suicide with a hand grenade provided by the Japanese military. Murata says his younger sister was killed instantly, while his mother died slowly over months due to the wounds she suffered in the grenade explosion.

Oe, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1994, was elated with the decision, saying "The presiding judge accurately read my book. His publisher, Iwanami Shoten Publishers, was also happy, noting "We appreciate the survivors who provided precious testimony." The presiding judge noted “It cannot be determined if the former garrison commander and others issued the orders by themselves, but Mr. Oe had adequate reason to believe so.”

The lawsuit filed three years ago was instrumental in the government’s decision to order high school textbooks be rewritten to delete references to the Japanese Imperial Army’s involvement, a move that drew heavy criticism from Okinawans and scholars who demanded the government withdraw the order. After more than 100,000 Okinawans staged a rally last September, the government did permit the five publishers to reinsert the original mass suicides descriptions into textbooks.

Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

JU FacebookOkistyleOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker