A painting of Okinawan high school students by Ken Kaizu is featured in the short film "Himeyuri."
A painting of Okinawan high school students by Ken Kaizu is featured in the short film “Himeyuri.”

GARDENA — On Saturday, June 21, at 1 p.m., the Okinawa Association of America Inc. will host a free “Irei no Hi” lecture and movie screening at the OAA Center in Gardena.

The purpose of this event is to provide an introductory lecture focusing on the Battle of Okinawa, its historical context, and the lasting effects on Okinawa and its people.

June 23 is a prefectural holiday in Okinawa called “Irei no Hi,” commemorating the end of the Battle of Okinawa. Every year, Okinawans pray for the lives lost during the devastating battle in which approximately 150,000 civilians were killed or committed suicide.

Keiko Itokazu, a member of Japan’s House of Councillors and past Okinawa Prefecture assemblymember, will speak to the gathering via live videostream from Okinawa (schedule permitting).

Ayano Ginoza, a research scholar at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women and lecturer at UC Riverside, will also deliver remarks.

OAA will also be screening two short documentaries:

• “Typhoon of Steel” (20 minutes, English). Local filmmaker and educator Gena Hamamoto interviews two Uchinaanchu Kibei (Nisei who were born in America and received their primary education in Japan or Okinawa). Takejiro Higa and Frank Seiyu Higashi served as linguists and interpreters in the U.S. Military Intelligence Service (MIS), saving countless lives during the Battle of Okinawa. Hamamoto will be in attendance and will introduce her film.

• “Himeyuri” (30 minutes, Japanese with English subtitles) recounts the harrowing experiences of 222 high school students and 18 teachers who were forced to work as nurses for the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of Okinawa. This documentary was produced by the Himeyuri Peace Foundation in Okinawa.

This event will take place at the OAA Center (Room 103), located at 16500 S. Western Ave., Gardena (parking lot accessible on 165th Street). This is a free event, but RSVP is required due to limited seating. Contact the OAA at (310) 532-1929 or mensore@earthlink.net.

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