I wrote recently of the controversy over how Japanese school textbooks treat the Battle of Okinawa in the Pacific War. Citizens of Okinawa have protested at the softening of references to the Imperial Army's involvement in mass suicides. They have my admiration and support, for, as I concluded in my post: "Okinawa demonstrated both the unmitigated brutality of Japan's rulers and the immense costs that the United States bore in order to secure the defeat of an aggressive totalitarianism."
A BBC correspondent has been talking to elderly residents of Okinawa. The story makes fascinating and harrowing reading, and I draw your attention to it. Memory is understandably undimmed:
Hunched over a garden bench, 81-year-old Mitsuoko Oshiro recalls how she was given a grenade by a soldier, who told her that if she failed to use it to kill herself and her family, she would be raped and tortured by the Americans. "I wanted to die, but I couldn't do it. We fled to the hills when the Americans invaded, but they didn't harm us - they just let us go," she says. But 11 members of her extended family obeyed the orders - they all died by taking rat poison.
Another survivor, 76-year-old Takejiro Nakamura, clutches a picture of his sister from before the war. He watched his mother strangle his sister in a cave. "We all wanted to kill ourselves, because we believed the Imperial Army," he says. His sister pleaded with his mother to kill her first, so she was strangled with a rope.
"I blame the Imperial Army. My sister would have had children and grandchildren by now."
Local records suggest several hundred people in Okinawa obeyed the Imperial Army and committed mass suicide.