Interview — The War Stories by the Experienced

Takenobu Kakinohana

b.1937 from Aka

About the Marure Boat

The marure boat was pretty cool
Boats now run with an engine
But back then there were no engines
I thought boats were to be rowed
The marure boat hurls itself at high speed
It attacks by crashing into the enemy holding 2 bombs
We did training using marure boat
In the east side of Aka Island in Kerama
We would get so excited because
We didn’t know that it was a killing machine
It goes at a high speed
Rolling up a trail of water behind it
In my mind, I was cheering it on
Although it was a deadly weapon
I was captivated by its speed

Aka Island, An Island With No Group Self-Determination

We asked the Japanese Army to kill us all at once
Because it would have been be easier
Everyone sat around in a circle in the field
There were two machine guns
My grandmother hugged me and said
“Don’t worry, we’re all going to heaven together”
An envoy of the Japanese Army named Uechi came to say
“Don’t kill them now”
He was trying to kill us at the right time
When the U.S. Forces approached
The U.S. Forces came nearly half way
But they turned back
There was nothing more the Japanese Army could do
Since the Marure boats were all destroyed
The U.S. Forces turned back
“Do not attack, leave them alone”
Their captain ordered his soldiers not to kill any residents
This was a big aspect in why
There were no group suicides in Aka Island

The First Captives of the Battle of Okinawa Killed by the Japanese Army

One thing that must never be forgotten about the Battle of Aka
Is that this was where the first prisoners were captured in the Battle of Okinawa
My uncle, who was my grandmother’s nephew,
A woman from Kobe (my uncle’s wife)
And another, an older female relative
These three couldn’t come up the mountain (due to old age)
The three took refuge in an air raid shelter near a well behind the village
The American soldiers found them there
The married couple came out once they were told to do so
But the other old lady wouldn’t come out
So she was shot dead
The couple was taken and told to eat
Tons of canned food were given to them
Since they were elderly
There was no way they could have done anything harmful
Before that, when they were captured by the U.S. Forces
They had their pictures taken
But the Japanese soldiers came around
While the U.S. soldiers weren’t around
As looking around to figure out the human presence they felt
The two were spotted eating (the Americans’ food)
The Japanese soldiers were furiously angry
They called them spies and pulled them out
Because the two couldn’t even walk
The couple was then killed (by the Japanese soldiers)
There were incidents like this

The Advancing of U.S. Army Fleet

It was a total chaos
They were saying that large fleets of battleships were coming
Later, I climbed the mountains to see it
There were so many ships it seemed like one could jump from ship to ship
The ships going to the main island of Okinawa were all gathered there
You could hear jazz music
People were desperately running towards the mountains for their life
Since we didn’t have any cannons
We couldn’t attack the ships
The U.S. Forces would go attack at noon
Then come back in the afternoon
So we would panic again

A Message to the War Dead, Hoashi Takao’s Family

I knew Hoashi Takao well
I have been to Hoashi’s house
There was an old lady in her 80’s there
She wanted someone who knew Hoashi Takao to come
She wanted to hear the stories of that time
She actually wanted to go herself
But she couldn’t due to old age
I told my sister about this
She said, “If a parent is that worried, let’s go”
So we went
People and neighbors all gathered
When I told them we had come from Aka Island
To talk about Takao
I brought photos with me
I took scenic photos of Zamami Village
I showed the photos while explaining where Takao had been
I talked about how he attacked from here
When I had finished talking
She was bawling in tears saying, thank you
“Takao has come back”
Before this, she never had closure
Until exchanging stories with the people of the island
My sister also said that
Takao was an amazing person

Lack of Teachers Postwar

It is said that education level in Okinawa is low
There were several training schools for teachers
Many people went their to become teachers
The problem is, after that war
They had all died
There are people that disregard that
So many died during the war
I, myself, could only go to Itoman Highschool from Aka Junior High
Naha was still burned down and the military were using the ports
Once I graduated Itoman High School
We received a call from the municipal office
Kinjo, Nakamura and I
We three, were told to come back to the island
When we asked what was going on, they said there weren’t any teachers
“There are less teachers than there are students so become a teacher”
We explained that we had just graduated high school
But were told that it was fine, we just needed to come
It was probably the same anywhere else after the war
We became teachers and temporary educators without a license
We took credit classes later on
To earn credits to become certified teachers
The big problem was that, those who were going to be teachers
Had died during the war

What You Felt During the Recovery Period of Aka Island

We had nothing left after the war
There was nothing to eat, no teachers
No notebooks or books at the time
So I feel proud that we have come this far
In the beginning, everyone was kind of somber
But I think it’s a big thing that people were able to rise from this
By trying to get better and do their best

A Message to Your Children and Grandchildren’s Generation

If we don’t talk about the war
Once it’s put in the past, people will forget
I’m worried that people will go back to the same way of thinking
So I have to keep sharing my experience
War is unacceptable
Wars from now will destroy everything in a split second
When you think about human life
Life is delicate, it’s transient
Which is all the more reason why we must cherish it