New footage released of WWII headquarters under Okinawa's Shuri Castle

New footage has been released of underground headquarters built by the now-defunct Imperial Japanese military under Shuri Castle in Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan. It is believed to be where a decision was made 79 years ago that led to heavy civilian casualties.

The Okinawa prefectural government is investigating the trench where the command headquarters was located for the 32nd Army during the Battle of Okinawa. One in four of the local residents were killed in the 1945 battle.

After footage of the area called the No.5 tunnel was released four years ago, a camera crew has been allowed in to film the No.2 and No.3 tunnels. The new footage was released on Wednesday.

The No.3 tunnel is located about 13 meters underground near the Shurei-mon gate, which is visited by many tourists. It is said to have been home to such facility as the office of the commanding officer, Ushijima Mitsuru.

Officers of the 32nd Army, who faced difficulty as the United States forces moved south, had to choose between launching a decisive battle near the headquarters, or retreating to the south for a battle of endurance. They made the decision for retreat on May 22.

As a result, civilians who evacuated to the south were caught up in the battle.

Many of the civilian deaths in the Battle of Okinawa, which lasted about three months, occurred within one month after the 32nd Army moved to the south.

Prefectural officials say they plan to repair two of the five entrances to the trenched headquarters and open the facility to the public in fiscal 2025 and 2026.

A former professor at Okinawa International University, Yoshihama Shinobu, is an expert on war relics. He says he hopes the documents of the US military and the notes of senior officers of the 32nd Army should be compared to clarify what is left behind in the underground facility, so as to shed light on how it was used.

He says as the number of people who experienced the war is on a sharp decline, he hopes the underground headquarters will be preserved and opened to show a shift is being made from people to objects in passing down memories of the battle.