Vandals damage Chibichiri-Gama cave
A person or persons had broken into Chibichiri-Gama (cave) in Namihira, Yomitan Village, damaging the site. The site is a memorial where 85 people committed a mass suicide during the Battle of Okinawa.
The sign near the entrance was thrown away, and Senbazuru, a string of a thousand paper cranes made as a prayer for long life by local children, was scattered on the ground. In the cave, burial urns containing remains and ashes of the suicide victims were also broken.
69-year-old Shoichi Chibana, a guide for peace tours, discovered the damage in the cave Tuesday morning. The last day when the war bereaved family visited the cave was Sep. 5th. According to an eyewitness report, the cave was as usual in the afternoon of Sep. 8. From the fact that the grass on the sign that was pulled up from the ground had not dried up, it is suspected that the cave was damaged within the previous few days.
Kadena Police closed the cave for a moment Tuesday for inspection. The War-Bereaved Families Association is planning to discuss about the matter with the village officials before filing a claim to the police.
The invading U.S. Army landed on the west coast of Okinawa Main Island on Apr. 1st, 1945, and reached the area around Chibichiri-Gama on the next day. 85 people from 21 families out of 140 who were hiding in the cave committed suicide. Afterwards, many of the bereaved families did not speak about the tragedy until about 40 years later after the war when some of them started talking about it.
In 1987, a member of a right-wing organization damaged a statue of peace constructed near the entrance to the cave. It was then reconstructed by sculptor Minoru Kinjo with the support of the bereaved families. The site is a symbol of the tragedy of the Battle of Okinawa, and many students visit it their peace study school trips.