Calgary Herald

Japan denies forcing Okinawa suicides

- TOKYO

• Japan said Friday it ordered textbooks to delete references to the military forcing local people to commit suicide in the Battle of Okinawa, in the latest incident highlighti­ng Tokyo’s views of the Second World War.

The 83-day battle, the bloodiest in the Pacific war, left 190,000 Japanese dead, half of them Okinawan civilians. The U.S. death toll reached 12,520 due to diehard Japanese resistance on the southern Japanese island chain.

While many civilians perished in the all-out U.S. bombardmen­t, local accounts say Japanese troops forced residents of Okinawa — an independen­t kingdom until the 19th century — to commit suicide rather than surrender to U.S. forces.

In recent years, nationalis­t academics have insisted that such suicide pacts were voluntary and not due to orders by troops from mainland Japan.

The education ministry said it ordered changes in a textbook for the first time over the issue.

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