In his Oct. 16 letter, “Setting Futenmna’s record straight,” Joseph Jaworski says: “There is no record of any kind of systematic brutalization of the Okinawan people by U.S. forces in World War II.” That is quite true. In fact, the invading U.S. forces treated captured locals unexpectedly humanely, defining themselves as liberators from the yoke of Imperial Japan. Captured people were gathered in makeshift camps to keep them out of harm’s way because fighting was still going on in the battlegrounds.
Some of the camps, however, gradually took on the character of concentration camps because confinement and detention continued long after the war was over. It was during these periods of detention that the U.S. military constructed bases and facilities with impunity, freely encroaching upon private land. In the 1950s, additional land was expropriated at bayonet point and by bulldozer to expand already existing bases.
It may sound minuscule compared with the brutality that Jaworski points out was committed by the Imperial Japanese Army against the civilian population. But the latter took place in the days of insanity. Death for the country, in whatever form, was a heroic act that won praise and acclaim in Japanese society in those days. The episodes of mass suicides in Okinawa must be interpreted in this context.
In other words, the Imperial Japanese Army’s brutality can never be a justification for the U.S. military’s misdeeds in postwar Okinawa, the substantial occupation of which is still continuing even today.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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