I'm starting to see a trend in the kind of books and movies I'm watching and it's worrying me... But here's to another war story...
I'm a huge fan of Okinawan culture, and I was recommended to read "The girl with the white flag" (白旗の少女). This book depicts the true story of a 6-7 year old girl surviving alone in Southern Okinawa during WWII.
With her mother and brother dead and her father out fighting the war, little Tomiko follows her older sisters and begins the trek from Naha to Southern Okinawa in the belief it will be safer there. However, due to lack of food, water and sleep, as well as the chaos of regularly being shot at by American air fighters, Tomiko suddenly loses sight of her sisters and finds herself alone. Hungry, she dodges bullets to find food in dead soldiers knapsacks.
She spends many hours a day looking for her sisters, only to be cursed at, abused and threatened by fellow Japanese citizens. One Japanese soldier makes an attempt on her life, whilst another makes an offer that Tomiko finds hard to refuse; a group suicide pact that will lead her to her family in heaven. Despite thIs, Tomiko somehow manages to survive the war, and is famously photographed by an American soldier smiling, waving and holding a white flag.
In the 1970s, a grown up Tomiko saw this photo for the first time in a war book. Shocked to see a photo of herself, she decided to tell the story behind the photo.
Japan has just lost the war and many people are choosing suicide over American rule. Tomiko considered suicide herself. That surely has to be better than surrendering. So just why is she smiling in that photo?