New peace monument unveiled in Okinawa town

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A new monument is unveiled in Nishihara, Okinawa Prefecture, on Wednesday.

A new monument engraved with the lyrics of a song for peace was unveiled in Nishihara, Okinawa Prefecture, on Wednesday, a day ahead of the memorial day for the victims of the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

The stone monument stands in a park and bears words from the song “Getto,” or shell ginger flower. The flower’s Japanese name literally means lunar peach, and the song about a prayer for peace has been loved by people in Okinawa Prefecture for decades.

Local musician Yutaka Umisedo, now 78, wrote the music and lyrics in 1982. The song uses the delicate beauty of the white flower to express the preciousness of life and is often sung at schools in the prefecture.

About 2.4 meters tall and about 5 meters wide, the monument includes all six verses. It was erected by an organizing committee of volunteers, with cooperation from the town and elsewhere, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the prefecture’s return to Japan in May and to express their determination for continued peace.

“By singing and passing down this song, I hope people will think about the folly of war and the importance of peace,” Umisedo said at the unveiling ceremony.