Himeyuri Survivor Speaks and Shares After 64 Years of Silence

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Ukwanshin’s “gakumun Kai” series was blessed to have Mrs. Suetomi, who is a survivor of the Himeyuri Nurses Corps. The corps was made up of 300 student nurses, who were forced to serve the Japanese Imperial Army. According to Mrs. Suetomi, 1/3 survived. The other 2/3 perished from artillery of forced suicide. The gathering for this event was held at Jikoen Temple in Kalihi, and began with a movie of war testimonies. It showed various stories of survivors. One horrific encounter was a man from Tokashiki, who unwillingly killed his mother by bashing her head in with a rock. This was done because they were told that the Americans were coming, so to commit suicide and not be captured. For Mrs. Suetomi, it was the first time she saw live war footage since her experience. She expressed her gratitude to the almost standing room only crowd, as she felt consolation which helped her to tell her story, and make a personal commitment to share her story from now on. She said that these stories aren’t what people want to hear, but they must be told so that these things will never happen again. It is her way to work for peace. Everyone who came left with a better understanding of what went on during the war. p60102171Many were surprised at the horror and suffering that the Okinawans experienced. These events and stories are part of our history, and help us to understand our culture and identity.p6010234 Those of us who are involved with music and dance can appreciate the songs which connect us to these times, and we all can appreciate the feelings involved. It also connects us to our ancestors and what they went through. Despite so much suffering, it was very important to them to pass down our culture, history, and the arts. For this we must always be grateful. A thanksgiving that is never ending. We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Mrs. Suetomi, for her strength and sharing to inspire us, and to her family for taking the time to also share and come out to our event. Ippe nifwe debiru.

1 thought on “Himeyuri Survivor Speaks and Shares After 64 Years of Silence

  1. Bernice Ishida

    Hi Eric & Norman,
    I’m a retired teacher involved with girls softball. (Norman’s cousin). We have a parent of a player that works for a non-profit WWII Historical Society. She creates WWII curriculum for high school students and though it’s based out of California, they have a 1-person office here in Honolulu. I asked her if they do anything regarding the Battle of Okinawa and she said the only thing they did was record oral history from a Mr. Higa, the interpreter for the U.S. Army. So most of the information is from the point of view of the American G.I., American Nissei that were relocated to internment camps. I told her about the session at Jikoen and sent her your blog link. She said they’re always looking for primary sources as many of the “survivors” are now dying. So hopefully, she can or will do something to add the Battle of Okinawa to the high school curriculum resources.

    Thank you for a very informative session.

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