By Art Schneider
In the 1944, as the war in the Pacific unwinds, the US Navy is approaching the island of Saipan. The island was home to several thousands of Japanese people. What follows is a hypothetical account of what was going on in the mind of a typical Japanese:
“I know the Japanese army is ready to face the American troops as they approach, but my fear grows strong. They say to us, the American take no prisoners, that is why we must be steadfast and strong and keep to our defenses.
“But day after day, and night after night, the news continues to worsen. We hear news that the ships of the ‘sleeping giant’, that Admiral Yamamoto had warned us that we had awakened, still approach. I am afraid, I choose not to be tortured and killed by the Americans. I must do the honorable thing according to the legend of my samurai brethren.
“We all know of a cliff by the north of our beloved island of Saipan. It is a beautiful white rock, but a steep drop into the ocean. We look out on the clear blue Pacific Ocean water, but the approaching armada of death betrays the calm pacific waters. We take to hills and one by one we fall to our deaths, the panic protects us from the threat of humiliation from our enemies. We are the residents of Saipan, we are gone.”
This was over 65 years ago. The American navy did land, but the wholesale massacre of the Japanese people did not materialize. The American navy gained control of the Island continuing its “island-hopping ” strategy form Guam to Saipan to Iwo Jima to Guadalcanal to Okinawa and finally into to Tokyo.
Because of the beauty of the islands, the magnificent beaches Saipan have become a popular resort. And because of its proximity to Japan, the island has become a favorite tourist and shopping destination for the Japanese themselves. Just a three-hour flight and they can be swimming, sunning and spending in this tropical paradise.
Today, the Banzai cliffs, as they are known, have become a place of remembrance for of the countries of the world. At the fought of the cliff, there are monuments from Japan, Korea, the United States, China, and Germany. With the hope that tragedy’s of Saipan and all wars for that matter are never allowed to happen again.
1. Admiral Yamamoto: 山本上将，即山本五十六（1884—1943），日本帝国海军军官，第26及27任日本联合舰队司令长官。他策划并指挥了日军偷袭珍珠港战役，这一事件拉开了太平洋战争的序幕。
2. island-hopping: 跳岛战术，也作蛙跳战术，是二次世界大战后期，美军收复东南亚日军占领的诸多太平洋岛屿时所贯彻的战术。即在拥有绝对海空权支配下，不采取逐一收复各岛的战法，可在收复一个岛屿后，跳过下一个岛屿，而攻占下下一个岛屿，特別是跳略过防守比较坚强顽抗的日军岛屿。通过跳岛占领，以海空封锁的方式来孤立日军占领的岛屿，迫使其最后不得不屈服（或宁死不从地饿死），从而大幅提升收复的进度与成效。