Did this one particular response cross a line?

Early in the morning of October 31 in Naha, Okinawa, Shuri Castle’s main hall, as well as two of its others buildings, was consumed by flames. Due to the castle’s status as a historic cultural, political, and economic center within the Ryukyu Kingdom and as a hub of foreign maritime trade in East and Southeast Asia over the centuries, the loss of such an important site was particularly heartbreaking for the citizens of Okinawa. Prefectural governor Denny Tamaki has already released a statement that the castle will be rebuilt as soon as possible, and a recent crowdfunding effort has already collected just shy of 300% of the campaign’s original goal.

Since that tragic morning, heartfelt messages have been pouring in from around Japan and the world through various social media channels. One such message was left on the official Twitter account of the Marine Corps Installations Pacific, which oversees and provides support to all U.S. Marine Corps installations in Japan, South Korea, and Hawaii. The Installations Command (@mcipacpao) tweeted the following message of condolence regarding the loss of the buildings:

There was a fire this morning at Shuri Castle, a symbol of Okinawa. We are truly pained to learn that the main hall and north hall of the complex completely burned down. We express our deepest sympathies to the citizens of Okinawa Prefecture.”

The vast majority of Japanese replies to the post were of a sympathetic nature, with many simply accepting the condolences along with expressions of their own feelings of disbelief that such an important cultural complex had been destroyed. One comment even offered return sympathy for the raging wildfires currently ravaging the state of California in the U.S. However, a few replies expressed skepticism due to the lingering effects of the U.S. and Okinawans’ historical connection during World War II’s bloody Battle of Okinawa in 1945–a battle during which roughly one third of the Okinawan civilian population committed mass suicide rather than be taken prisoner. The most cutting of these comments was posted by one @Cr0uchinTiger:

“Did you feel the same when you burned down the original castle?”

The U.S. military and Okinawa have undoubtedly maintained a troubled relationship since the end of World War II. 31 U.S. military bases still dot the islands to this day, a fact which has proven to be a source of continued flaring tensions for locals. However, given the intended nature and context of @mcipacpao’s message, many net users felt that the sharp comment was unjustified.

It’s also worth noting that October 31, 2019 actually marks the fifth time that the castle has been caught up in flames. This fact didn’t escape the notice of savvy net users who called @Cr0uchinTiger out on his inaccuracy. In fact, the castle structures that existed up until last week were actually reconstructions of buildings that were destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa, which were themselves already reconstructions of buildings that had previously burned down in 1709, 1660, and 1453 in backwards chronological order.

Twitter user @hirune2018 discovered @Cr0uchinTiger’s comment and posted a screenshot of the thread, replying in the process:

“I feel that jab was a bit too harsh.”

As of this writing, this comment has garnered over 35,000 likes, with net reactions includeding:

“The Imperial Japanese Army had its headquarters under the castle during WWII so its bombing couldn’t have been avoided at the time.”
“Well, looks like idiots who don’t know history are still in charge of Twitter.”
“These topics are sensitive. I wish all of these people would proceed with a bit more caution.”

“This guy doesn’t understand the situation. It’s precisely because of the castle’s history that they [U.S. Marine Corps] posted that tweet…”
“Just find the cause of the fire already!”

Ultimately, let’s hope that Governor Tamaki’s aspirational timeline for reconstruction by 2022 will indeed come true so that the people of Okinawa can regain one of their most important cultural monuments.

Source: Twitter/@hirune2018 via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Wikipedia/663highland
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