** war and social upheaval: World War II Pacific Theater -- Okinawa cause of civilian casualties

World War II Pacific Theater: Okinawan Civilian--Encounters with Americans

Okinawan encounters with Americans
Figure 1.--The Coast Guard captioin read: Kimono-clad Okinawan Puzzled by American Treatment: Children of Okinawa, wearing kimono-type garments, register bewilderment at the considerate treatment by American forces occupyimg the Ryukyu Island only 325 miles from Japamn. A Coast Guard combat photographer, going in from an LST, snapped this Okinawa boy carrying his kid brother on his back, a practice common among the Japanese. He holds two cans of rations dealt out by the Americans. He recived food and good treatment, where his Jap masters had taught him to fear torture from the invaders." USCG 4376

We are not entirely sure just how Okinawans came into contact with the Americans. It was dangerous because the Amricans were understanably trigger happy, especially at night. There was Japanese firing coming from all directions, even from the rear. And Japanese soldiers were likely to fire on the civilians if they saw then trying to reach Anerican lines. The Americans found civilians in caves as they were tring to clearout Japanese soldiers from hidden firing positions. Some Okinawans eventually energed from hiding places as the battle moved on. They had liitle choice because they needed food and water, especially water. Many were wary because the Japanese soldiers had taught them that they would be raped and tortured. As far as we can tell, most Okimawans believe what they were told. Something like half of the population in some ares committed suisude, although in many cases it was a morebof a forced suiside. We are not sure to what extent the Okinawan civilians actually sought out the Americans. We suspect that it was a small minority, but we do not have any actual data. A girl at the time, reports, "The call [from Americans] for surrender continued but we did not respond because we thought we were going to be raped or killed if we went out. We stayed in the cave for five days with only water. There was a Japanese officer in our cave. He disguised himself as a local resident by wearing a female kimono. This officer said to my mother, 'Tthe U.S. Army does not kill civilians. We cannot continue to live like this. Let's surrender.' He led us outside to surrender, and saved our lives." [Nakahodo]


Nakahodo, Shige. Quoted in "Civilians on Okinawa," American exprience. Thisnis a PBS series, The artticle has no author or date. We accessed it May 4, 2021.


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Created: 7:10 PM 5/8/2015
Last updated: 7:10 PM 5/8/2015