A group of Battle of Okinawa survivors, mobilized when they were students in the dying months of World War II, has issued a statement opposing the Japanese government's plans to build up its forces on the Nansei Islands in Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures.
The planned Self-Defense Forces (SDF) deployments are in preparation for contingencies such as a conflict over Taiwan.
The statement dated Jan. 12 was released by the "Moto zengakuto no kai" group of survivors, mobilized in 1945 from 21 teachers' schools, junior high schools and girls' higher schools in Okinawa Prefecture, declared, "We are adamantly opposed to turning Okinawa into a battlefield again."
In the Battle of Okinawa 78 years ago, the Japanese military mobilized teenaged girls and boys to build trenches, nurse injured soldiers, and perform other support roles. Many were killed in the fierce ground battles with the U.S. military.
The statement by the group, co-headed by Shoken Yoza, read, "We were taught the war was for justice, and were forced to join in it without knowing." It also criticized the central government's move to acquire counterstrike capabilities, increase the defense budget, and boost integration between the SDF and U.S. forces.
"The current situation overlaps with the prewar period, in that Japan seems to be moving to incite war by sparking people's sense of crisis, using the 'China threat' as an excuse. The government is only pushing forward with its arms buildup, and has not the least consideration about the damage to residents."
The statement added, "Wars are absolute evil. All they do is kill people with bombs. We want the government to uphold the lessons of the Battle of Okinawa: that lives are to be cherished above all, and that peace is the most important." It also demanded the Japanese government "directly talk with neighboring countries and regions and strive to build peace with diplomacy while emphasizing the war-renouncing Constitution of Japan, based on remorse and lessons learned from its war of aggression (during World War II)."
(Japanese original by Shinnosuke Kyan, Kyushu Photo Department)