Recalling time spent in Okinawa

I agree with the opinion-page article ''Remembering Okinawa,'' April 3, regarding the motivation of the Japanese military during World War II and the flawed revisionist argument against the dropping of the atomic bombs. To examine some other aspects of the Japanese/Okinawan relationship, this is how I remember Okinawa:

I worked in Okinawa 18 years after the war. In my experiences with the Okinawans, I found they were friendly, outgoing, and not rigid in their thoughts and actions -- even in relation to their religious practices. I saw how the Japanese treated the Okinawans as second-class citizens in both Japan and Okinawa.

In conversations with my Okinawan friends who were caught in the middle of the battle, I was told that during the days of the first American raids, in preparation for the coming invasion (which everyone knew was coming), the Japanese made an offer to the population (women, children, and seniors) to evacuate them to Formosa. My friend's sister (a teen at the time) was among the evacuees. Although she was slightly wounded by bomb fragments while in transit, she fared far better than the rest of her family that remained. My friend lost both parents and an aunt in the cross-fire.

I have not been back to Okinawa since it was returned to Japanese rule. I hope that the passage of time has caused an improvement in the Japanese attitude toward the Okinawans. The Okinawan people could give the world a lesson in forgiveness and brotherhood.

Karl Flaster, Dayton, Ohio

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