Remembering Iwo Jima’s War Dead Once Again

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Attendants of a memorial service offer flowers for the war dead on the island of Iwo Jima on Thursday.

A service in memory of those who died in the fierce battle between Japan and the United States on the remote volcanic island of Iwo Jima in the final stages of World War II was held on Thursday, taking place on the island itself for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Iwo Jima, officially called Iwoto, is part of the Ogasawara Islands, which are administratively part of Tokyo. The Tokyo metropolitan government organized the ceremony.

Fourteen people, including surviving family members, prayed for the souls of the fallen soldiers in front of the island’s Chinkon no Oka cenotaph.

Rumi Matsumaru, an 82-year-old woman living in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, lost her father, Hikosaburo Hirano, in the battle. Matsumaru, speaking on behalf of the families, said: “I always envied families with fathers and resented the war. I will not let the historical facts and lessons learned from the war fade away. I will pass them on to future generations.”

Participants also visited places including a medical bunker and Mt. Suribachi, the site known for the U.S. military raising its national flag. After visiting these spots, Naomi Honma, a 48-year-old woman from Chuo Ward, Tokyo, said: “It’s heartbreaking to think that my grandfather died in a place without water or medicine, so far from his native land. We must never let a war happen again.”