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Punzie
June 21st, 2007, 07:31 AM
Japan gives Iwo Jima pre-war name

http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20070620/capt.45689e55249f48779dfb2dc7d5044904.japan_iwo_ji ma_ny124.jpg
U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop
Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Friday, Feb. 23, 1945. On Monday, June 18, 2007,
Japan changed the name of the Pacific island of Iwo Jima, site of the famous
World War II battle, to its original name of Iwo To after residents there were prodded
into action by two recent Clint Eastwood movies. (AP Photo/Joe Rosenthal, file)


Story Highlights:

Iwo Jima returned to original name, Iwo To
Island is site of one of World War II's most horrific battles
Island was setting for Clint Eastwood's movie "Letters from Iwo Jima"
Locals were never happy the name Iwo Jima took root



June 21, 2007

TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japan has rechristened the island of Iwo Jima, site of one of World War II's most horrific battles, with its pre-war name in an attempt to rectify a misnomer proliferated for a half-century by such movies as Clint Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima."

The new name, Iwo To -- pronounced "ee-woh-toh" -- is the same as that used by the island's original inhabitants and the one still preferred by residents in the area. It was adopted Monday by the Japanese Geographical Survey Institute in consultation with Japan's coast guard.

The change was championed by surviving islanders evacuated during the war, who wanted to reclaim an identity they said had been hijacked. But others said the overhaul cheapens the memory of a brutal campaign that today is inextricably linked to the words Iwo Jima.

Back in 1945, the small, volcanic island was the vortex of the fierce World War II battle immortalized by the famous photograph by Joe Rosenthal of The Associated Press showing Marines raising the American flag on the islet's Mount Suribachi.

But before the war, the isolated spit of land was called Iwo To by the 1,000 or so civilians who lived there. In Japanese, that name looks and means the same as Iwo Jima -- or Sulfur Island -- but it has a different sound.

The civilians were evacuated in 1944 as U.S. forces advanced across the Pacific. Some Japanese navy officers who moved in to fortify the island mistakenly called it Iwo Jima, and the name stuck. After the war, civilians weren't allowed to return and the island was put to exclusive military use by both the U.S. and Japan, cementing its identity.

Locals were never happy the name Iwo Jima took root.

But the last straw came this year with the release of Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima" and "Flags of Our Fathers," twin war films that only reinforced the misnomer.

In March, Ogasawara, the municipality that administers Iwo To and neighboring islands, responded by adopting a resolution making Iwo To the official reading. Ogasawara residents and descendants of Iwo To evacuees petitioned the central government to follow suit.

"Though we're happy for Iwo To, which has been forgotten by history, the islanders are extremely grieved every time they hear Iwo To referred to as Iwo Jima," the local Ogasawara newspaper quoted the resolution as saying of the Eastwood movies.

The government agreed; an official map with the new name will be released September 1.

Still, Iwo Jima is the only name that clicks with most Japanese not from the remote island chain, some 1,120 kilometers (700 miles) southeast of Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean.

Even some veterans, like 84-year-old Kiyoshi Endo, who heads an association commemorating soldiers killed in the battle, feel uncomfortable about the switch.

"Naval maps have long used the name Iwo Jima," Japan's Sankei newspaper quoted Endo as saying. "We should respect that history."

Today Iwo To's only inhabitants are about 400 Japanese soldiers.

In the U.S., Maj. Gen. Fred Haynes, who was a 24-year-old captain in the regiment that raised the flag on Mount Suribachi, was surprised and upset by the news.

"Frankly, I don't like it. That name is so much a part of our tradition, our legacy," said Haynes.

Haynes, 85, heads the Combat Veterans of Iwo Jima, a group of about 600 veterans that travels back to the island every year for a reunion. He is currently working on a book about the battle called "We Walk by Faith: The Story of Combat Team 28 and the Battle of Iwo Jima." He doesn't plan to change the name.

"It was Iwo Jima to us when we took it," said Haynes. "We'll recognize whatever the Japanese want to call it but we'll stick to Iwo Jima."

The 1945 battle for Iwo Jima pitted some 100,000 U.S. troops against 22,000 Japanese deeply dug into a labyrinth of tunnels and trenches.

Nearly 7,000 Americans were killed capturing the island, and fewer than 1,000 of the Japanese survived.

The Americans occupied the island after the war, and returned it to Japanese jurisdiction in 1968. The U.S. Navy still uses an Iwo To airstrip to train pilots who operate from aircraft carriers.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press (http://www.cnn.com/interactive_legal.html#AP). All rights reserved.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/06/21/japan.jima.ap/index.html?section=cnn_latest

OmegaNYC
June 21st, 2007, 10:35 AM
Changing the name of the island won't change the history. I think the Japanese should learn that.

Ninjahedge
June 21st, 2007, 10:55 AM
Um, that isn't the point.

The original name of the island was Iwo To.

They just changed it back to what it was.


Haynes, 85, heads the Combat Veterans of Iwo Jima, a group of about 600 veterans that travels back to the island every year for a reunion. He is currently working on a book about the battle called "We Walk by Faith: The Story of Combat Team 28 and the Battle of Iwo Jima." He doesn't plan to change the name.

"It was Iwo Jima to us when we took it," said Haynes. "We'll recognize whatever the Japanese want to call it but we'll stick to Iwo Jima."


Seems rather selfish. It was the BATTLE of Iwo Jima, no matter what they change the name back to, but the island is now called Iwo To. I think people just need to keep the two as distinct and seperate realities.


BTW, we saw the Japanese version of the Iwo movie. Pretty good. Sad too.

OmegaNYC
June 21st, 2007, 12:23 PM
^^ I can see both sides of the issue, but I can also see why NOW all of a sudden the Japanese want to change the name of the island. Loosing WWII did bring a great deal of shame and embrassment to Japan. I'm also sure, that many locals didn't take too kindly with the Letters to Iwo Jima movie.