In addition to looking after the wounded, corps members had to carry food and water, deal with human waste, and bury the dead. To access supplies, they dodged bullets as they left their hiding place, carefully hauling back food and water, and toiling night and day in the noisome cave. Okinawans have learned from experience that this unending chain of crimes against women and girls is inseparable from the institution of the military.

  • Her friends used it, while her family and coworkers used her birth name.
  • The battle would officially end on Jun. 22 with the annihilation of the last organized military forces and the suicide of the army’s senior leadership as they pushed their forces to die gloriously.
  • However, at that time, the Japanese largely failed in these attempts, most noticeably in trying to eliminate the Okinawan Language.
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The students found a grenade and decided that they would pull the pin and die together. They were told if captured, they would be raped and murdered. However, their teacher, Seizen Nakasone persuaded them to wait and surrender instead. He promised, that if he felt something was wrong, he would signal for them to jump off the cliff. From November of 1944 military surgeons were offering nursing education to prepare for the mobilization of the students to work in army hospitals.

Okinawa is the poorest prefecture in Japan— it has the country’s highest unemployment rate, and 30 percent of Okinawan children live below the poverty line. Many Okinawan women work in the service industry, often in relatively unstable jobs.

Suetomi got word that her family was alive and was told their location. She left the concentration camp in search of her family and found them. It was an emotional reunion after months of not knowing if they were alive. They explained to the family that they were the owners of the house, to which they were told, “This is war! There is no such thing as ‘your house.’” They ended up living in a barn adjacent to an acquaintance’s house until eventually they were able to return to their home in Taira. A week after the deactivation order, the group was hiding near Cape Kyan, the southern most tip of Okinawa, when U.S. troops surrounded them.

At midnight on June 18th, the students were issues a deactivation order at the Army Field Hospital. Forces closing in, there was heavy bombardment outside everywhere they looked. Nevertheless, the students were forced to leave the cave and fend for themselves. They had worked so hard to save the lives of the soldiers, believing their country would win, they were mortified to learn they had lost and thrown into the battlefield. This is when Himeyuri experienced a majority of their casualties. Going out during the day was not an option, they could hear the gunfire and explosions right outside the caves.

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In Azumanga Daioh, Okinawa is the destination of the seniors’ school trip during the main cast’s third year of high school. Chiyo-chan is very excited about going there since she has never been on a field trip before in her life, and Yomi is too, though she only shows it through buying a guidebook just for the occasion. When they get there, the girls look at shisas, eat chanpuru and saataa andagii, participate in scuba diving, buy souvenirs and bathe in the ocean.

Their families also paid monetary reparation to the family of the victim, a common practice in Japan.

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President Bill Clinton and Japanese Premier Ryutaro Hashimoto. The people of Okinawa also placed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times decrying the rape and other aspects of the U.S. bases in Okinawa. In 1996, the United States and Japan signed a bilateral agreement to reduce the amount of land on Okinawa covered by U.S. bases by 21 percent—the U.S. military had previously occupied 19 percent of the island. Recent crimes involving U.S. servicemen in places other than Okinawa also testify to the threat posed to women by the military. In September, a U.S. soldier stationed in Korea confessed to killing a Korean prostitute. In Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture this summer, a Navy petty officer from the amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood reportedly molested a Japanese girl.

The hospital staff fell back to the south with any patient that could still walk or was worth saving. Anyone too injured to leave was given a hand grenade to commit suicide with or were told that trucks would come for them later… but for now they could wait and drink milk. Not everyone knew it was laced with cyanide and some cursed the inhuman bastards who did this to them as the staff began the long trek south; their school days had prepared them for the marching at least. A total of 136 Himeyuri teachers and students lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa.

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The Imperial soldiers managed the groups within the caves and instructed the girls on what to do. “We had to take care of the wounded soldiers and feed them. Once in a while, we were lucky and had vegetables, but very little,” explained Suetomi. At 11 years old, Suetomi dreamed of becoming an elementary school teacher. With encouragement from her teachers, Suetomi studied vigorously and became the only student from Taira Village to pass the entrance exam for the Okinawa First Girls’ High School. There were 400 hundred female applicants from all over Okinawa and only 40 were accepted. The schools motto, “Aim for the Development of Highly Intellectual and Well-Cultivated Women” inspired Suetomi to pursue her dream.