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Survivor of 1945 'Gegenmiao' massacre continues to tell tale

Mankichi Oshima (Mainichi)

Just before the end of World War II, more than 1,000 Japanese people were killed by a Soviet tank regiment in Manchuria, in a massacre referred to as the "Gegenmiao incident."

    One of the survivors of the massacre, 81-year-old Mankichi Oshima, continues to talk about his experiences of the incident, in which "most of the victims were women and children."

    The horror unfolded on the morning on Aug. 14, 1945. Civilians living in northwestern Manchuria were trying to evacuate to the "Gegenmiao" Tibetan Buddhist temple, but encountered Red Army troops en route.

    Oshima was 9 years old at the time. Attempting to hide from the soldiers, he ran toward a trench together with his mother and younger siblings. "We ducked down with some other evacuees, but the Soviet soldiers came down into the trench as well," Oshima recalls.

    As the soldiers chased down survivors, the octogenarian explains that adult survivors committed suicide and killed children.

    "I was waiting for my turn to be killed when my father and older brother found us." His younger sister had already been killed, and his family left her body behind as they escaped. The surviving family managed to return to Japan the next year.

    Every year on Aug. 14, there is a memorial service to remember the victims at Gohyakurakan-ji temple in Tokyo's Meguro Ward.

    Oshima's father was made head of a group active in strengthening relationships between Japan and China, holding events such as planting trees at the site of the massacre in what is now China. Oshima is now head of this group, having taken over following the death of his father in 2006. The group also provides a chance for Japanese people orphaned in China before returning to their homeland to take part and wish for peace.

    Oshima has also worked on a documentary about the massacre completed in May this year. Seventy-two years have passed since the incident, but as Oshima explains, "We must not let its memory fade away."

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