War experience from Okinawa expressed through song in Hiroshima


Morihiro Nakamura sings a song detailing the wartime experience of his family members in Okinawa Prefecture to convey the brutality of war to people in Hiroshima Prefecture.

“I want people to know the brutality of war,” Nakamura, a 72-year-old adviser at the Hiroshima association of people from Okinawa, says, calling for world peace.

Now a resident of the city of Hiroshima, which was devastated by the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing in the closing days of World War II, Nakamura is originally from Okinawa Prefecture, where fierce ground battles were fought in the final months of the war.

The words of the song Nakamura sings, accompanied by his own sanshin, a traditional string instrument, were written by his father, Seiko, based on the father’s experience during the Battle of Okinawa. The song is sung to music from “Nubui Kuduchi,” a famous folk song in Okinawa.

The song, which has 10 verses, starts with a line that says the father never forgets that U.S. soldiers landed on Sunabe in the town of Chatan on April 1, 1945.

On the day of the U.S. landing on Okinawa’s main island, he fled from the village of Nakagusuku toward the south with his mother, wife and three daughters.

The family were able to eat only small amounts of food while fleeing. Many people including relatives of the family lost their lives amid shelling.

The family kept moving around, hiding in graveyards and air-raid shelters, before the U.S. military took them captive on June 20. Seiko’s mother and first daughter died of malaria at the camp where they were held.

The song ends with a line in which the father, as a survivor of the war, calls for no more war and for world peace.

Morihiro Nakamura was born after the end of the war, in 1950, in Okinawa under U.S occupation. He grew up with the presence of the U.S. military.

In 1968, when Okinawa was still occupied by the United States, Nakamura entered Hiroshima University as a foreign student and, after graduation, taught English at high schools in Hiroshima.

Okinawa was returned to Japanese rule in 1972.

Since retirement, Nakamura has been teaching the sanshin. He sings the song at gatherings for Okinawa Memorial Day on June 23 and other events.

“Hiroshima and Okinawa experienced the most brutal part of the war. Both had the intense experiences. People in Okinawa and Hiroshima are on the same page,” Nakamura said.

When he was a high school teacher, Nakamura accompanied students to Okinawa on school trips.

“I want children in Hiroshima to know more about the history of Okinawa and the ground battles there,” Nakamura said. “I will continue to do what I can do for Okinawa from Hiroshima.”

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