Okinawa’s Memorial Day

Okinawa has two more holidays than mainland Japan: obon, or the honoring of one’s ancestors, and Irei no Hi, the day to console the dead. This year’s Irei no Hi is today, June 23rd, and while mainland Japan and Hokkaido still commute to work, Okinawans get this extra day off.

It’s not like the Fourth of July or the American equivalent of Memorial Day where there are barbecues and fireworks. Irei no Hi is to remember the lives lost during the Battle of Okinawa during World War II when American forces attacked Okinawa and seized it under bloodshed. Over 240,000 people died in this battle, and Okinawa has been occupied by American bases since then.

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In 1995, a memorial sight in memory of the Battle of Okinawa was built to remember the deaths, pray for peace, pass on the lessons of war, and serve as a place for meditation and learning. The sight hosts the names of the dead facing the sea in Japanese burial fashion.

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3 thoughts on “Okinawa’s Memorial Day

  1. Why that’s a very heavy question. Especially heavy a question for an American, who are often the purveyors of war in this day and age, and for the Japanese who frankly were absolutely the bad guys in WWII.

    I’d say of course depends on the basis of the war, but about 90-95% of the time (if not more) war is a racket by those in power to exploit the mass peoples of the world. There are hardly ever good guys, just bad guys vs. bad guys. World War II that everybody cites was basically the Soviet Union versus Nazis, not really about glorious Americans taking the credit. Wars should be prevented before they even begin.

    That said, for the possibly 1% of the time they truly are in self-defense then a nation has every right to defend itself and that cannot be ignored…

    • Well worded. I think in the same way, especially since coming to Japan. In Japan, there’s only the Defense Force, so no Japanese people would have to worry about their husbands not coming home or being disfigured or anything.

  2. Hmmm, this is a tough question. At the risk of sounding like one of those over-important narratives that start some series about war; I have to go with war very often being necessary. Not all the time of course, but there have been plenty of wars started for conquest, and plenty of wars fought to bring justice and freedom. It just seems really awkward to argue my point in a post about World War II war dead.

    I believe all things have their place in moderation, even war.

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