This rusting cannon of old Japanese navy base sits still abandoned in a farmland on the Hahajima Island, which is approximately 1,000 kilometers to the south of the capital of Japan and accessible from Takeshiba pier.
It was a high-angle gun to repel enemy forces from the second-largest island of the Ogasawara Islands during the Pacific War. Akinori Fujitani, 45, and his wife Tomoka, 43, came to Hahajima 20 years ago as new farmers and found the cannon in their new farmland. They said they felt uncomfortable at the first sight but have never thought of discarding it.
Hahajima, a popular tourist destination with beautiful beaches, was a battle field 70 years ago. Being one of the defense bases along with Iwo Jima, it was the target of several attacks by US air forces during the World War II. One of the war survivors on the island, Kyoko Suzuki, 83, recalls, “I lost my friends. My father had already decided where he should kill himself and his family including me.”
Toward the end of the war, all the islanders were forced to evacuate to the mainland and the island became a part of US army base. The evacuated people went through a long period of hardships until 1973 away from home. It’s said, however, this is the reason why the cannon and remains of other war equipment are still there on the island. Suzuki returned to Hahajima 30 years after the evacuation. “Who starts a war? Maybe, it’s a person who has no real fear of war,” she said admonishingly.
(July 22, 2015)