NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – Touring sites related to the Battle of Okinawa, which raged during the closing days of World War II, has become a popular activity for U.S. military personnel.
The tour, which is organized by the U.S. Marine Corps Community Services once every other week, apparently attracts people because it not only includes the perspective of the U.S. military but also the views of the Japanese military and the local population.
Chris Majewski, who has been serving as a tour guide for eight years after retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps, said the tour has rarely been canceled due to a lack of participants.
At $38, people can join an eight-hour bus tour that starts from Camp Zukeran.
They first visit a hill where the remains of Urasoe Castle are located to view the west coast of Okinawa’s main island, where U.S. forces launched their invasion, and Shuri Castle, where Japan’s command headquarters was located.
Majewski explains the achievements of the American forces, and participants then visit an exhibition hall to look at war trophies, including a Japanese flag.
Participants are also told stories about the many civilians who died after they were thrown out of bunkers by Japanese troops.
Majewski said he tries to provide a balanced view about the battle by including the various perspectives of those involved.
The Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific theater during World War II. More than 200,000 lives were lost during the fighting, including more than 14,000 U.S. soldiers and roughly one-third of the 450,000 population of Okinawa at the time.
The U.S. invaded Okinawa on March 25, 1945, and June 23 commemorates the end of the main fighting and the defeat of Japanese forces.