WWII Battle of Okinawa Remembered as Costly Key to Victory

二战冲绳战役:代价巨大的胜利关键
1944年7月18日,冲绳岛附近的美军舰艇释放烟雾

VOA News Brian Padden,August 12, 2015

In Okinawa, the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender to American led forces in World War II still stirs painful memories for survivors. It also offers key insight into why many claim that the brutal Battle of Okinawa led to the use of atomic weapons on Japanese cites.

The invasion of Okinawa was the last and largest of the Pacific island battles of World War II. It included an American naval armada of over a thousand ships and over 170,000 American troops.

The Japanese forces numbered close to 100,000.

Despite their bigger numbers and firepower, the American led forces encountered strong resistance. The Japanese fought from heavily fortified positions. Kamikaze pilots flew suicidal missions and destroyed or heavily damaged dozens of American ships.

The sustained fighting that raged for 82 days destroyed villages, incinerated forests, and killed close to 200,000 people.

In Okinawa the nature of the war was changing. The Japanese under General Mitsuru Ushijima employed a strategy of a guerilla war of attrition.

“His goal here is not to win. He has no intentions of winning the battle of Okinawa. His intention is to bleed the American forces so bad that the United States sues for peace,” said Mark Waycaster, the curator of a small museum on a marine base in Okinawa that preserves historical wartime photographs and memorabilia.

Nagasaki and Hiroshima

Americans realized after Okinawa that a full-scale invasion of mainland Japan would lead to repeated battles, resulting in untold destruction and loss of life before victory over Tokyo could be achieved.

The decision to drop atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, President Harry Truman was quoted to say at the time was to prevent “an Okinawa from one end of Japan to the other.”

Today on Okinawa the horrific loss of life suffered during the battle, nearly one third of the civilian population, is still remembered by residents and marked by memorials.

 The Himeyuri Peace Museum tells the story of nearly 200 schoolgirls who were conscripted to work as nurses for the Japanese military.  Many died in the fighting. 

Shimabukuro Yoshiko was only 17 when she was forced to attend to wounded Japanese in a cave that was converted into a battlefield hospital. She recalls being constantly afraid and overwhelmed, trying to treat the mounting number of injured soldiers with minimal medical supplies.

She said the Japanese warned the girls that if captured by the Americans they would be brutally raped and killed. 

As the Americans advanced Yoshiko was injured in an explosion. Her initial reaction was to hope that death finds here before the Americans.

“I didn’t think I would survive. I thought, how am I going to die? I wondered in my head and in my heart would I die instantly? And that is what I was praying for to God,” Yoshiko said.

Instead she said an American soldier appeared, treated her wound and saved her life.

“And then I thought, is this the enemy? I heard they were devils and I saw his face and he looked nice and said ‘I’m going to help you,’” she said.

For many pacifists in Okinawa such memories of wartime devastation and loss of life justify their opposition to the continued U.S. presence on the islands and of conservative Japanese efforts to reinvigorate its military. Others believe the Battle of Okinawa warranted the use of the atomic bomb and exemplifies the need for maintaining a strong military presence in the region.

二战冲绳战役:代价巨大的胜利关键

美国之音帕登,2015年8月12日

二战冲绳战役:代价巨大的胜利关键
Pfc. Paul Ison from the 6th Marine Division dashes forward through Japanese machine-gun fire while crossing a draw on Okinawa, May 10, 1945.

在冲绳,日本向美国领导的盟军投降70周年纪念再次激起幸存者痛苦的回忆。它还向人们提供了一个重要的观点,解释为何许多人认为是残酷的冲绳岛战役导致美国对日本使用原子弹。

冲绳战役是二次大战中最后一场也是规模最大的太平洋岛屿战役。美国海军动用了超过1000艘军舰和超过17万部队。日军人数近10万。

尽管美军具有人数和火力上的优势,但还是遇到了强大的抵挡。日本在加固的工事中顽强战斗,神风敢死队执行自杀任务,摧毁和重创了美军数十艘战舰。战斗持续了82天,摧毁了村庄,焚烧了森林,造成近20万人死亡。

在冲绳岛,战争的性质正在发生变化。日军在牛岛满将军的指挥下采用了减少敌人有生力量的游击战。设在冲绳海军基地的一个小型博物馆保留着当时战场的照片和遗物。博物馆馆长马克·维克斯特说:“他的目标不是打赢。他没打算打赢冲绳战役。他的目的就是要尽可能让美军多流血,让美国求和。”

冲绳战役后,美国人意识到,对日本本土的全面入侵会导致多次这类战役,在彻底打败日本之前还要承受难以估量的生命财产损失。 

用当年杜鲁门总统的话说,向广岛和长崎投原子弹是为了防止整个日本都变成冲绳。

今天冲绳居民依然记得,冲绳战役的重大人员损失,近三分之一的平民人口死亡。这段历史被记录在纪念馆里。

姬百合和平纪念馆记录了近200名女生应召入伍作为日军护士的故事。她们中许多人都阵亡了。

岛袋良子当时只有17岁,她被迫到一个由山洞改造的战地医院照料伤员。她回忆说,当时非常害怕,不知所措,他们努力用极其有限的医药来救治越来越多的伤兵。

她说,政府警告她们这些女孩,如果被美国人抓到,她们将遭到强暴和杀害。后来良子在爆炸中受伤。她最初的反应是希望在被美国人发现之前死掉。良子说:“我没想到我会活下来。我当时就是祈求上帝让我立刻死掉,”

结果一名美国士兵出现了,为她治伤,救了她的生命。 良子说:“然后我想,这就是敌人么?我听说他们是魔鬼,我看到他的脸,他看上去很和蔼,说我来帮你,”

 对于许多冲绳的和平主义者来说,对这场战争巨大破坏和殒命无数的记忆坚定了他们反对美国驻军的态度,以及反对日本保守势力重振军力的努力。

而另一些人则认为冲绳战役印证了使用原子弹的必要性,也凸显了在这个地区维持强大军事存在的必要性。