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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 June 21 - 27  > 9 innocent Okinawans killed for ‘spying’ by Japanese soldiers during war
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2017 June 21 - 27 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

9 innocent Okinawans killed for ‘spying’ by Japanese soldiers during war

June 25, 2017
In Okinawa’s northern village of Kunigami, nine innocent villagers and evacuees were executed by Japanese soldiers on false “spying” charges. The book, “100-Year History of Kunigami Village”, published last year describes in detail this incident for the first time in the depiction of village history.

Akahata on June 25 reported on the tragedy which occurred during and shortly after the Battle of Okinawa (Mar.26 - Jun. 23, 1945), carrying interviews with a witness who courageously revealed the hidden truth and a person who compiled the Village History.

One of the editors of the Village History said, “There were pros and cons on writing about the massacre at first, but the strong desires of the persons concerned made us decide to include the incident in the book.”

According to the Village History, one night in May when the Okinawa Battle was still taking place, Japanese soldiers made a night raid on a family from Naha City taking refuge near a public hall in the Tobaru district of Kunigami Village, killing the wife with an explosive device.

The account given in the book states, “The body was severely mangled. Her head and limbs were covered with burns.” Many villagers at that time said to each other, “I saw a stranger yesterday who looked like a scout of the Japanese Army,” “I think the explosive was a grenade,” and “The family may have been attacked by mistake when searching for a man who had been thought to be a spy.”

On July 4, ten days after the end of the Okinawa Battle, four residents who were just freed from a camp were killed in the districts of Ginama and Hedo in Kunigami Village. They were on their way home to their own settlements from the camp located in a different village. A group of Japanese soldiers ambushed the four and killed them, claiming that anyone who was in the camp was bound to be a spy. The soldiers left the four bodies on the side of the road.

Another tragic incident took place in Kunigami Village’s Hanji district. Many people at that time were evacuated to Hanji from the village of Yomitan. Then, some evacuees were marked as spies by Japanese soldiers. The Kunigami Village History describes what happened, “On the hill of Hanji, four or five people were tied and hacked to pieces. Blood was splattered all around the area.”

A witness whose father repeatedly told him about this savage killing said to an Akahata reporter as follows:

“Some villagers cooperated with the Japanese soldiers in the massacre of evacuees. At that time, it was common to arrest suspected spies. My father told me that some villagers who had helped the soldiers dispose of ‘spies’ had been boasting their ‘heroic’ acts. On the other hand, many villagers knew about this killing but they kept silent for a long time. Even family members of the victims said their relatives ‘died of illnesses’. I now believe that I have to reveal this tragic story in order to pass it on to our children and grandchildren. By doing this, I want to contribute to peace and illustrate the importance of life.”

Chibana Hiroyasu, 81, who directly heard oral evidence from witnesses when compiling the 100-Year History of Kunigami Village said, “The villagers who gave testimonies had been worried about whether their neighbors or if they themselves were involved in the massacre, but they courageously told me the story. At that time, they had no feeling of guilt or betrayal, so they unthinkingly gave information to the Japanese soldiers. Some of the villagers who acted as informants do not want us to write about these incidents. They firmly refuse to testify before us. Kunigami Village during the war had a lot of evacuees from elsewhere, which resulted in an insufficient supply of food. Threatening villagers with swords, the Japanese soldiers snatched food from villagers and unleashed attacks on targeted civilians by falsely accusing them of being spies. I participated in the editing work of this book because I now believe that we should not conceal the painful history but should learn from our history so that we can declare a no-war vow.”
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