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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 August 22 - 28  > Okinawans remember victims of US attack on Tsushima-maru during WWII
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2018 August 22 - 28 [PEACE]

Okinawans remember victims of US attack on Tsushima-maru during WWII

August 23, 2018

On August 22, a memorial ceremony took place in Okinawa’s Naha City to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the wartime Tsushima-maru tragedy in which about 1,500 Okinawa civilians, mainly school children being evacuated were killed by a U.S. submarine attack.

Seventy-four years ago on the day, the Tsushima-maru evacuation ship bound from Naha to Nagasaki was sunk by a torpedo from a U.S. submarine, killing at least 1,484 Okinawan evacuees aboard.

In the memorial ceremony, along with Naha City Mayor Shiroma Mikiko, about 400 people, including survivors and bereaved families, participated.

Mayor Shiroma in her memorial speech pointed out that it is necessary to pass down to future generations memories of the Tsushima-maru tragedy and the Battle of Okinawa. She also said, “We have a responsibility to build a future with a firm determination to never again allow war to occur.”

One of the survivors, Teruya Wataru, 78, recalled the tragedy in which he lost his mother and elder sister.

Teruya said, “After escaping from the sinking Tsushima-maru, my mother carried me to a drifting soy-sauce barrel and she left to look for her daughter. It was the last time I saw my mother.”

Teruya is now a volunteer at the Tsushima-maru Memorial Museum in Naha City to talk about what happened to the ship. Teruya said, “I really worry about the current moves toward revising the Constitution which could lead to war. It breaks my heart to see the new U.S. base project destroying Henoko’s precious nature.”

Another survivor, 83-year-old Taira Keiko who lost her grandmother, older brother, and cousin in the U.S. attack on Tsushima-maru said, “I’m fervently opposed to the construction of a U.S. base in the Henoko district.”

Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Akamine Seiken also took part in the ceremony.

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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