Our study trip to one of the most beautiful places in Japan-Okinawa will remain one of the most memorable, firstly, for its unique culture, secondly, special care for the environment, in particular the protection of marine life, and thirdly, its history, which makes you think about the grief experienced by the population of Okinawa and left a deep mark on world history. During our short tour, we visited several organizations implementing Sustainable Development Goals in Okinawa, as well as attractions, one of which made a great impression on me and reminded me of my home country.
In March 1945, Okinawa experienced one of the bloodiest battles of the war, which is known in history as “The Battle of Okinawa” or “Typhoon of Steel”. The battle destroyed almost everything in Okinawa – homes, streets, cultural heritage and claimed the lives of more than 250 000 people. The final battle took place in June at Mabuni Hill, where a memorial Park named “Peace Memorial Park” is located today. On the one hand, the Park was formed as a reminder of the grief of the people during the Second World War (WW II), and on the other hand, it is symbolizing peace in the light of the dark history of Okinawa.
The Memorial Park includes several special areas reminiscent of the tragedy of the country. So, one of the zones is Cornerstone of Peace that consists of 118 stones with the names of died people, including civilians and the Japanese and foreign soldiers.
The design of Cornerstone of Peace shows surging waves of an iron storm turning into everlasting waves of peace moving towards the ocean. Opposite to Cornerstone of Peace is established Peace Plaza, in the center of which is set “Flame of Peace”.
The Flame of Peace combined from three different flames which were taken from different part of Japan. First is from Aka Island where US forces were land for the first time in Okinawa, and two other flames are from Hiroshima and Nagasaki where nuclear bombs were dropped.
Another very important area of this Park is the Peace Memorial Museum, which shares information about the battle, lessons learned from the war and the need for establishing peace and tranquility in the world.
During a walk through Peace Memorial Park, I caught myself thinking that this Park reminds me of “Mustakillik square” or “Independence Square”, which is located in my homeland – Uzbekistan. I have found some similarities between the Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa and Independence Square in Uzbekistan, but before I share my findings, let me give a brief overview of my home country. Uzbekistan is a country in Central Asia with a population of about 33 million people. Like Okinawa, Uzbekistan has delicious cuisine, a unique culture, and interesting history. Before Uzbekistan became an independent country, it was one of the 15 countries that were part of the Soviet Union. In addition, my homeland, like many other countries, and Okinawa suffered from WW II and lost a large number of people, both civilian and military, during that period.
After gaining independence in 1991, the government of Uzbekistan established Independence Square, which illustrates the independence and reminds the future generation about the history of the country. On an area of 12 hectares are many trees, flowers, and fountains that representing the peace and well-being of Uzbekistan. The entrance to the square is decorated with sixteen marble columns connected by a bridge with sculptures of storks on top, which symbolize peace and quiet.