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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 August 17 - 23  > Survivors of sinking of wartime evacuation ship carrying children pray for peace
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2016 August 17 - 23 [PEACE]

Survivors of sinking of wartime evacuation ship carrying children pray for peace

August 23, 2016
It has been 72 years since a U.S. submarine near the end of the Pacific War attacked and sunk a Japanese evacuation ship with Okinawan children and adult civilians on board. A memorial service took place on August 22 in the Okinawan capital city of Naha to commemorate the victims of the tragedy.

Bereaved families, survivors, the Naha City mayor, and Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Akamine Seiken attended the ceremony, offering one-minute of silent prayer and pleading to achieve lasting peace.

With the Okinawa Battle imminent, the ship Tsushima-Maru carrying 1,788 passengers, including school children, teachers, evacuees, and crewmembers left for Nagasaki located about 700km away from Okinawa on August 20, 1944. Two days later, however, the ship was attacked by a U.S. submarine and sunk around 300km northeast of Okinawa. A total of 784 children and 698 adults were killed in the attack.

Bereaved family representative Miyagi Tokumasa in the condolence speech pointed out, “The Imperial Government ordered the elderly, children, and women to evacuate Okinawa because they were unable to engage in actual combat and the government thought they were just food-consuming nuisances. In preparation for the Okinawa Battle, it wanted to increase available food to feed Japanese soldiers.” Mourning for the war dead whose hopes and dreams were cut off in the war, Miyagi said, “I will dedicate the rest of my life to helping to prevent the recurrence of the horrors of war.”

An 81-year-old woman who was nine years old at that time and survived after six days at sea said, “I keep doing my testimony activity, believing that we must never allow another war to take place. I’m also opposed to the construction of a U.S. base in Henoko and U.S. helipads in Takae. Only after succeeding in removing all military bases from Okinawa will we feel true peace here.”

Past related articles:
> Okinawans commemorate 71st anniversary of Tsushima-maru sinking tragedy [August 23, 2015]
> Wartime Tsushima-Maru tragedy victims seek state compensation in court [April 2, 2013]
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