Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Friday, May 21, 2010

HBO Mini Series - The Pacific Falls Short

Recently I watched the HBO Mini series The Pacific which followed the story of the first marine division through the Pacific during World War II. The series while very captivating really disappointed me when they portrayed the marines in Okinawa Japan.

Don't get me wrong, what they had was definitely interesting but in my opinion it lacked more of the history of the battle and the people on the island. They had nothing portraying Shuri and I totally expected there to be footage of the Himeyuri school girls and the mass suicides that took place at the end of the battle.

On the plus side it did show the atrocities of war and how men can lose their minds when placed under tremendous stress. The did show the civilians what were used by Japanese soldiers to trick the American forces and the madness of the whole situation of throwing soldiers into an environment they were unfamiliar with. Overall I would grade the film a B- because it skipped many important factors that should have been covered. Here is a clip I found called Inside the battle - Okinawa.

I would recommend the film but wish it would have been more thorough.

If you go to Okinawa I would also recommend visiting the Himeyuri Peace Museum. The Himeyuri Peace Museum offers a window into the struggle of a group of high school girls, 14 to 19 years old, recruited as nurses during the Battle of Okinawa. The museum chronicles the lives, studies, and trials faced by these girls. Caught in the crossfire of raging battles and rampant disease, approximately 200 students died in the Battle of Okinawa. They are the face of the innocent victims that lost their lives fighting someone else’s war.

Picture taken from the movie Himeyuri no to
The Japanese military mobilized a number of Okinawan schools to compensate for their falling ranks. They used Okinawa’s children and elderly for unarmed menial labor positions, which were very often fatal despite their noncombatant nature. They served the Japanese military despite the colonization and discrimination that Okinawa had been subjected to by Japan. Okinawa was a part of Japan only in technicality, its people were treated as outsiders and its needs were deemed insignificant. Many Okinawans assisted the Japanese military enthusiastically in the hopes that they would be recognized and treated as Japanese.
The Himeyuri students, also called the “Lily Corps,” were students and teachers from the Okinawa Daiichi Women’s High School and the Okinawa Shihan Women’s School. They served exclusively as nurses for Japanese personnel, which entailed caring the needs of the wounded, surgery, burial of dead bodies, and general maintenance of the working conditions.
Despite the image of the pristine Red Cross hospital conditions that they had been promised by Japanese military propaganda, these young girls were instead faced with the horror and filth of the trenches. They were driven into caves to care for Japanese wounded, often operating in darkness, surrounded by disease and dead bodies. Many students suffered mental breakdowns and approximately nineteen students died during the three-month battle from disease or in crossfire.

The Himeyuri students were given their discharge orders on June 18, 1945. These teenage girls had been taken from their lives, lost their families, witnessed unimaginable human suffering, and were simply told to go home. However, their release from service did not coincide with a ceasefire. The battle raged on, resulting in the deaths of 80% of the students and teachers. Some students were killed in crossfire when they left the shelter of the caves and a number of them committed suicide. Suicide was rampant among them for a variety of reasons, one of which was the fear of being raped by the American military forces, as the Japanese military had widely propagandized. Others were unable to find their families or were simply too traumatized by their experiences to continue.
Thousands of people died in the Battle of Okinawa, but it is the deaths of around 200 teenage girls that continue to touch hearts. The Himeyuri students are the faces of daughters, sisters, and friends that were treated and killed as if they were inconsequential. People expect soldiers to go to battle and are in turn unsurprised when they lose their lives. Collateral damage, the military term under which civilian deaths are categorized, falls short of expressing the impact of human loss. It is easy to accept death tolls but this museum accepts the responsibility of humanizing the numbers. Let's all pray for peace.

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