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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Vandals Hit 1945 Okinawa Suicide Cave

I’m dying again.

After viewing the carnage left over after a vandal(s) ripped apart a memorial to a wartime mass suicide at an Okinawa cave, Buddhist monk Chibana Shoichi (surname first) exclaimed “(The cave) is not just a grave for people who have suffered a sense of guilt for years for surviving the tragedy. “It’s an act of killing the victims again and deriding the excruciating history of Okinawa.”

The infrequently visited cave’s vandalism was spotted on September 12, 2017 when Chibana of nearby Yomitan village in Okinawa-prefecture was leading foreign journalists to the spot.

On April 2, 1945, 83 local Yomitan villagers committed suicide rather than surrender to advancing U.S. forces—a sad fact borne out the Japanese insistence that death would be preferable to capture, telling its populace about made-up atrocities the Allied Forces would perpetrate upon them if alive.

The natural cave, known as Chibichiri, is located within a thick wooded area, and is where the suicide of all—or perhaps “mercy” killed by other Japanese locals—was a monument to their “sacrifice” to Japan.

Along with whatever articles they had with them when they died, their remains still exist in the cave.

Since then, junior and senior high school students who visited Chibichiri on peace programs have laid numerous origami paper cranes.

The vandalism includes shredding of the origami cranes, as well as smashing of the glass bottles and jars left behind by the villagers.

Recent visitors to the cave on September 5, 2017 to honor the dead during Japan’s Bon Matsuri (Festival) did not see anything amiss at that time.

In 1988, the site was vandalized when one year after it was installed as “the statue of peace connecting generations” near the cave’s entrance, the statue was destroyed by a right-wing politico.

In 1995 the statue was rebuilt and placed at the cave’s entrance, along with a sign containing a poem about the 1945 suicide.

During this most recent vandalism, the sign was placed atop the statue.
Buddhist monk Chibana Shoichi points out the jars and bottles smashed by vandals.
I hate seeing crap like this.

You can hate war. You can hate peace in the face of aggression. You can no give a flying fug.

But why destroy someone or something in the process of hate?

How does vandalizing a “memorial” to the dumb buggers of the town who were so indoctrinated by the Japanese government that they felt the need to kill themselves rather than surrender?

I wonder if this was done to send anyone a message? I don’t think so. 

I’ve always felt that vandalism is immaturity. It’s simple selfishness.

I know this goes both ways.

I’ve written about Japan being upset about a memorial to comfort women placed across the street from the Japanese embassy in South Korea.

Japan cries foul… wondering why the mistakes of 70-years ago should be brought up now.

The vandalism of the cave? That’s why. People care about what happened in the past.

As human beings, we have a tendency to honor the dead, and the living who have suffered.

To forget the past is the means to repeating them. It’s History 101.

I have no love affair for a memorial for a bunch of people who killed themselves. I think it’s tragic. I think it’s a stupid death. They didn’t need to die. But Japan made them die. They made themselves die.

I don’t have a problem with the villagers keeping the site as a place to honor the dead… because, as stupid as that mass suicide sounds to me in 2017, it was an acceptable solution in 1945 Japan. I try not to judge them too harshly… I blame the politics of pre- and WWII Japan.

But… what did these pour people of 1945 Yomitan Village do to the person or person who vandalized the site?


Even if we are talking about a son/daughter or grandson/granddaughter who lost someone in the cave in 1945, there’s no reason to vandalize. We’re talking about drug-addled or someone with a mental-health issue.

You can call it politics, if you want… but how does destroying a memorial to the dead and “not signing it” help your political cause? It doesn’t. My two reasons in the previous paragraph stand.

Personally, I think the souls of the dead in this case need to be repatriated into a local cemetery.

Honoring their sacrifice in the cave where they killed themselves may show honor… but it also highlights the stupidity and arrogance of 1945 Japan.

Why honor that at the cave?

Honor them at a cenotaph in front of the cave, but put their remains at the local cemetery… where their family’s remains are before them.

Maybe I’m wrong. What are your thoughts?

Andrew Joseph

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