Japan Zentrum

Links und Funktionen



Kolloquium/Vortragsreihe zu aktuellen Themen im Wintersemester 2019/20

Okinawan wartime memory in contemporary literature

30.01.2020 18:30 Uhr – 20:00 Uhr

Memory of the Battle of Okinawa still remains deeply engraved in the mind of many Okinawans. The survivors of the Battle started to publish their narratives in the early 1950s. This was followed by the efforts of local researchers to systematically collect civilian testimonies and other material to construct a detailed history of the war. The prefectural government and municipal administrations of Okinawa as well as local publishers have continued to publish the outcome of such research from 1971 until today.

Wartime memory and its impact on Okinawan society have also been a central topic of literary works by major Okinawan writers in the postwar era. They have explored through imagination various aspects of wartime memory that are less or hardly represented in oral testimonies and historical accounts. These include fractured memories associated with intense trauma and memories unexpressed in the public domain due to social reasons. The voice of the mabuis (spirits) of the war dead is sometimes heard. Transgenerational transmission of such memory has also become an important theme in their works.

In this presentation I will look closely at some of the fictions by three contemporary writers — Ōshiro Sadatoshi, Sakiyama Tami and Medoruma Shun — and examine their diverse approaches to wartime memory and its transmission.

Masayuki Ōnishi, Ph.D. is Senior Researcher at the Research Center for Knowledge Science in Cultural Heritage at Dōshisha University. He specializes in linguistic and literature study of minority languages and oral cultures. One of his ongoing research projects concerns the memory of the Battle of Okinawa and the Battle of Bougainville.