November 15, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
At 10:33 p.m. on November 12, Toshie Asato, who was the oldest living person speaking about her experiences of the Battle of Okinawa in Okinawa and who served as the model for the film “GAMA: Getto no hana (GAMA: Shell ginger flowers)”, died of thyroid cancer at a residence for the elderly in Kitanakagusuku. She was 99 years old. Her hometown was Kitanakagusuku.
During the Battle of Okinawa, Asato lost 11 family members, including her husband and two children. She began her activities speaking about her experiences in 1981, and spoke out about the tragedy of war for nearly 40 years.
Asato graduated from the former Okinawa Kenritsu Joshi Kogei Gakko (Girls’ Arts School). During the Battle of Okinawa, she lost almost all of her family and relatives as they fled from the scene of battle, and she lost her nine-month-old daughter while they were taking refuge in the Todoroki Trench in Itoman. She wrote a book based on her experience titled “Battle of Okinawa: One Mother’s Chronicle”, which served as inspiration for the film “GAMA: Getto no hana”.
After the war, Asato was engaged in early childhood education at the Kishaba Preschool in Kitanakagusuku, which was established by local volunteers. In 1986, she was elected as a member of the Kitanakagusuku village council, where she served for three terms comprising 12 years until 1998. She also served as a co-sponsor/representative of the Okinawa Umanchu Association, the Okinawa branch of the Article 9 Association, and engaged in anti-war and peace activities.
Asato ended her activities speaking about her experience in May of last year, at age 98, because of poor health.