The Kaetsu Educational & Cultural Centre, Cambridge
One Blue Sky - Okinawa and Peace
The islands are full of tropical plants and flowers, and rare birds and creatures. Okinawa is also the northern limit of the dugong habitat range. Sailors across cultures thought the this aquatic mammal were young women of the sea (mermaids).
Okinawa is 1500km south west of Tokyo and closer to Taipei, Shanghai and Seoul. Pyongyang, Beijing, Manila, Saipan are all within 2000km radius of Okinawa.
Because of this militarily prominent position, these beautiful islands were hit by a fierce battle in March 1945. The "Typhoon of Steel" that lasted for ninety days disfigured mountains, destroyed much of the cultural legacy, and claimed the precious lives of upward of 200,000 people.
The Battle of Okinawa was the only ground fighting fought on Japanese soil and was also the largest-scale campaign of the Asia-Pacific War.
A significant aspect of the Battle of Okinawa was the great loss of civilian life. At more than 94,000 civilian losses far outnumbered the military death toll.
Some were blown apart by shells, some finding themselves in a hopeless situation were driven to suicide, some died of starvation, some succumbed to malaria, while other fell victim to the retreating Japanese troops. Under the most desperate and unimaginable circumstances, Okinawans directly experienced the absurdity of war and atrocities it inevitably brings about.
This war experience is at the very core of what is popularly called the "Okinawan Heart," a resilient yet strong attitude to life that Okinawan people developed as they struggled against the pressures of many years of U. S. military control. Okinawa was occupied by America for 27 years after the WWII, yet it still has 75% of all U.S. military bases in Japan today.
The "Okinawan Heart" is a human response that respects personal dignity above all else, rejects any acts related to war, and truly cherishes culture, which is a supreme expression of humanity.
This poem "One Blue Sky" was written by an 8 years old boy in Okinawa and read out by him in 2014 Peace Ceremony for All Victims of the Battle of Okinawa. It was first translated into English by some Japanese and English bilingual teenagers. This was followed by translation to French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese and Korean by kind volunteers.
At the 2015 Japan Day event at Kaetsu Centre, the poem was recited in 6 languages by the international community in Cambridge.