NAHA, Okinawa — On the eve of the day the Battle of Okinawa ended 62 years ago, the prefectural assembly Friday passed a resolution urging Tokyo to retract an Education Ministry decision to “whitewash” the suicides of hundreds of residents during the battle.

In April, the ministry ordered the removal from school history textbooks any mention of the Japanese military’s involvement encouraging — if not actually ordering — civilians to kill themselves rather than surrender to the Americans.

“It is an undeniable truth that the mass suicides would have never occurred without the involvement of the Imperial Japanese Army,” the statement read. A group of assembly members are to travel to Tokyo to deliver the request.

The Education Ministry has stated that it was “not clear” that soldiers actually gave orders to the civilians, even though it is well documented that they passed out grenades to families huddled in caves awaiting the invasion.

The prefectural assembly’s statement said deleting the references denies the testimony of a large number of witnesses to the mass suicides.

“Okinawa residents, who were forced to make sacrifices that cannot be explained in words, can hardly accept the deletions and changes,” the statement said.

As of Thursday, 36 of Okinawa’s 41 cities, towns and villages have adopted similar statements.

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