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Kamata Arashiro, 104, and her three children survived a mass suicide attempt during the battle for Okinawa in April 1945. Fearing torture and death at the hands of U.S. soldiers, more than a hundred villagers hid in a cave and then blew themselves up. Kamata protected her children from the blast by throwing a futon over them. Today she prefers to not dwell on the war..-----------------------.The tiny island of Ie Jima sits just ten miles off the coast of Okinawa. We heard of the story of 104-year-old Kamata Arashino, a woman who survived a miraculous ordeal. We boarded a boat to go get her story...There's young people laughing, taking photos, wearing hip modern clothing. It's hard to believe that just a half century ago, people were landing on this island for a very different reason...That was over 60 years ago. Our invasion is of a gentler nature. The legacy of World War II lives on and the people who remember it best congregate in this place every day. We found Kamata right away and immediately started asking questions about the war. Our translator had to shout the questions into her ear...I saw her seven months ago. She's in a lot better shape right now. We showed up, she was folding towels and she was animated as we asked her about herself. She didn't want to talk about the war. She said, "I'm happy now!"..Ie Jima was a difficult place to live before the war. People survived largely on sweet potatoes and fish. But they had strong families and communities. All that came to an end abruptly on April 17th, 1945...In 1945, 130 villagers hid in this cave to avoid American shelling. Among them were the centenarian Kamata and her three kids. The Japanese had provided bombs for them to commit mass suicide in case American's caught them. They told the villagers that if Americans do indeed capture them, a horrible death awaits...Kamata didn't want to talk about the war, but her son, Shigeichi Arashino was willing. He described the American battle ships shelling the island
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© 2005 Gianluca Colla
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Okinawa, the island of centenarians
Kamata Arashiro, 104, and her three children survived a mass suicide attempt during the battle for Okinawa in April 1945. Fearing torture and death at the hands of U.S. soldiers, more than a hundred villagers hid in a cave and then blew themselves up. Kamata protected her children from the blast by throwing a futon over them. Today she prefers to not dwell on the war..-----------------------.The tiny island of Ie Jima sits just ten miles off the coast of Okinawa. We heard of the story of 104-year-old Kamata Arashino, a woman who survived a miraculous ordeal. We boarded a boat to go get her story...There's young people laughing, taking photos, wearing hip modern clothing. It's hard to believe that just a half century ago, people were landing on this island for a very different reason...That was over 60 years ago. Our invasion is of a gentler nature. The legacy of World War II lives on and the people who remember it best congregate in this place every day. We found Kamata right away and immediately started asking questions about the war. Our translator had to shout the questions into her ear...I saw her seven months ago. She's in a lot better shape right now. We showed up, she was folding towels and she was animated as we asked her about herself. She didn't want to talk about the war. She said, "I'm happy now!"..Ie Jima was a difficult place to live before the war. People survived largely on sweet potatoes and fish. But they had strong families and communities. All that came to an end abruptly on April 17th, 1945...In 1945, 130 villagers hid in this cave to avoid American shelling. Among them were the centenarian Kamata and her three kids. The Japanese had provided bombs for them to commit mass suicide in case American's caught them. They told the villagers that if Americans do indeed capture them, a horrible death awaits...Kamata didn't want to talk about the war, but her son, Shigeichi Arashino was willing. He described the American battle ships shelling the island