Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Iwo Jima is changing its name

According to an article in today's Mainichi Daily News, Iwo Jima's name is being changed back to its original name of 'Iwo To'.

Japan changes official name of Iwo Jima to 'Iwo To'

The official name of Iwo Jima island in the Pacific has been changed to "Iwo To," the governmental Geographical Survey Institute announced.

The island was the famous scene of a fierce battle between Japanese and American forces in early 1945. It is now part of the Ogasawara islands, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The institute was asked to change the name of the island back to Iwo To, the original name given to the island by its inhabitants, by the Ogasawara Municipal Government. After discussing the the issue with the Japan Coast Guard, institute officials announced the change on Monday.

The institute will call the island Iwo To on a map that will go on sale on Sept. 1. Both Japanese words "jima" and "to" mean island. (Mainichi)

For the Japanese language student or speaker you would know that 'Shima' is the kun-yomi of the character 島 while 'To' is the On-yomi. Considering this, then perhaps the change is in response to the two recent Clint Eastwood films about Iwo Jima (Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima) as an effort to wrestle an ethnographic identity back to the island from the one that World War II helped hijack?

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