Banzai cliff, Japanese suicide during WW2

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Banzai cliff, Japanese suicide during WW2

At Banzai Cliff, where defeated Japanese jumped to their deaths screaming a final salute to their emperor, there was silence and a bowed head yesterday from Emperor Akihito, son of the wartime regent.

"Our hearts ache when we think of those people who fought at a place where there was no food, no water and no medical treatment for the wounded," Emperor Akihito said in Tokyo before the visit to Saipan with his wife, Empress Michiko, their first overseas trip to commemorate war dead.

The emperor, 71, was 10 years old when 55,000 Japanese, including 12,000 civilians, along with 3500 US soldiers, died in a three-week battle during World War II for the tiny Pacific Island.

An unknown number of Japanese died throwing themselves off Banzai Cliff, so named because they shouted "Tenno heika, banzai" (Long live the emperor) when they jumped. Death, they had been told, was preferable to surrender.
Banzi Cliff is one of the sites where hundreds of civilians and Japanese military jumped to their deaths during the US invasion during WWII. Japanese had taken over the island after WWI and turned it into a fortress. Koreans, Chamorros, Japanese and other Pacific Island and Asian civilians, some impressed labor, were told that the invading Americans would kill everyone in the most painful ways possible. To avoid the invading troops most of Saipan's population escaped into the jungle and headed to the north end of the island where whole families leaped from high cliffs and into the churning ocean to avoid capture. Monuments to the dead now line the cliff-top.
By netchicken: posted on 29-6-2005

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