Monday, 27 November 2017

Former Japanese Naval Underground HQ, Naha, Okinawa

In the failing months of WWII, the Japanese Army command ordered the Naval contingent  to make a last stand in Naha, in what is now called the underground naval HQ -  this was all part of the army's plan to slow the inevitable - invasion and defeat under the guns of the Americans. Being subordinate to the army, the naval commander had to comply.
Tunnels were dug out of the sandstone by hand, by soldiers and civilians who had only just survived on starvation rations for months.
Not surprisingly the entire command post was overrun by the Americans and those Japanese that were not killed in action committed suicide - you can still see the gouge marks left by hand grenades detonated by soldiers not willing to face defeat.

More than 250,000 people died in the battle of Okinawa - half of those were civilians. The islands were left in a state of utter desolation for many years after the conflict ended.

It is a bit weird trying to photograph and post-process a place that has seen so much violence and chaos as this.
After the killing had stopped the Japanese people, and more specifically the Okinawans, were, I think, incensed when they learned that they had effectively been lied to for years about how badly the war had been conducted - and the losses that they had to suffer - for nothing...

The tunnels go for several hundred metres - but there are still many hundreds more that are off-limits to visitors - too deep and, ironically, too dangerous to step into...

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