This year marks 70 years since seven Okinawan men from Hawai‘i accompanied a shipload of pigs to Okinawa to help provide relief for their war-torn island home following the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. The men transported the 536 Chester Whites that had been purchased in Nebraska to Okinawa in August 1948.
In a ceremony in his State Capitol office, Gov. David Ige commemorated the efforts of the seven by proclaiming Sept. 27 as “Pigs From the Sea Day.” Most of the men were Okinawan Issei who had settled in Hawai‘i in the early 1900s. They were veterinarian Dr. Yoshio Yamashiro, Ryoshin Agena, Shohei Miyasato, Ushikichi Nakama, Shinyei Shimabukuro, Genbi Tonaki and Yasuo Uezu. Uezu was the only Nisei in the group.
The number of pigs in Okinawa dropped from over 100,000 before the Battle of Okinawa to less than 8,000 after the battle. Hawai‘i responded to the crisis by raising over $47,000 in six months to purchase the 550 pigs and deliver them in person to Okinawa to not only alleviate the severe food shortage, but also to help rebuild the hog industry. (Herald contributing writer Dan Nakasone wrote on Hawai‘i’s relief efforts in his story, “Aloha from Hawai‘i to Okinawa,” in the Aug. 17, 2018, edition.)
Lily Horio, daughter of Shohei Miyasato, accepted the governor’s proclamation on behalf of the seven men. Family members of two other men — Shinyei Shimabukuro and Yasuo Uezu — also attended the ceremony.
Gov. Ige said he proclaimed “Pigs From the Sea Day” to strengthen the bonds between Hawai‘i and Okinawa. He said the Okinawan character value of yui maru (warm-hearted circle of cooperation) “goes hand-in-hand with the spirit of aloha.”