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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 16 - 29  > Okinawans angry at Defense Ministry intent to use earth from killing zone in WWII for Henoko US base project
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2020 September 16 - 29 [POLITICS]

Okinawans angry at Defense Ministry intent to use earth from killing zone in WWII for Henoko US base project

September 18, 2020

“I’ll not tolerate the Defense Ministry using areas where the remains of Okinawans killed in the bloodiest battle during WWII were buried to collect sand and earth for the Henoko reclamation work to construct a new U.S. base. This act violates the dignity of the dead!” angrily said Gushiken Takamatsu who heads a local volunteer group in Okinawa which works to return the remains of the war dead to the bereaved families.

In the ongoing Henoko reclamation project for the U.S. base construction, the Defense Ministry initially planned to collect earth and sand used as landfill materials from areas outside Okinawa as well as from the northern part of the Okinawa main island. The ministry, however, in its application to the prefecture for approval of design changes in the reclamation work, indicated that the digging of landfill materials will also be carried out in the southern part of the island.

Southern Okinawa is the area where many civilians were killed during a fierce battle between the U.S. forces and the former Japanese military in the Battle of Okinawa which took place in the final stages of WWII.

Gushiken related his experience. In 2019, the remains supposedly of a Japanese soldier were discovered in a vertical cave which was exposed during the digging operation at a rock quarry in the southern area of the island. Near the cave mouth confirmed traces of the U.S. military’s attack were found.

Gushiken pointed out that many remains of Okinawan war dead are still waiting to be found in natural caves, which are called “Gama” in Okinawa, and in the mountains. He said that the use of earth and sand possibly containing the unearthed skeletons of Okinawans for the Henoko reclamation work is unacceptable.
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