This article examines two early pieces of literary war fiction by Okinawa's leading contemporary writer, Medoruma Shun, that deal with two kinds of unarticulated memories of the Battle of Okinawa: memory constrained by social consequence and the inexpressible memory of trauma. Both stories constitute explorations of war memory that are not found in survivor testimony and, as such, simultaneously reveal and critique the limitations of survivor-authored narratives of the war. I first explicate how the war-survivor characters in “Fûon” (“The Crying Wind,” 1985 – 86) lived their lives since the war without telling anyone about their most haunting war experiences, in large part, I argue, because of the possible social consequences of disclosure. Drawing from Bessel A. van der Kolk and Onno van der Hart's, as well as Oka Mari's, scholarship on the nature of traumatic memory, I demonstrate how the traumatic war experiences of an elderly war-survivor character in “Heiwa dôri to nazukerareta machi or aruite” (“Walking the Street Named Peace Boulevard,” 1986) remain beyond her ability to narrate them.
The article argues that Medoruma's war fiction needs to be interpreted within the frame of second-generation survivorship in order to better reveal the ways in which his narratives contribute to understandings of the Battle of Okinawa and its ongoing effects on survivors. It is Medoruma's experience as the child, grandchild, and relative of numerous survivors of the Battle of Okinawa that has provided him with an intimate look at the nature of war trauma and made him aware of the gap between war stories that survivors recount in public and the inarticulate expressions of war trauma that haunt many of them in private. At the same time, because he has not directly experienced the war, Medoruma is removed enough from the traumatic event to be able to address that which survivors have avoided or have been unable to articulate.