Japan Changes Iwo Jima Pronunciation to Ioto
At the urging of the island's original inhabitants, the Geographical Survey Institute of Japan changed pronunciation of the name Iwo Jima to its pre-WW2 one, Ioto, on Monday, 18 Jun. In Japanese, it is only a change in pronunciation of the last word in the name without actually changing it; the change from iwo to io is simply a different way of westernizing the word. The original inhabitants praised the move, stating that the pronunciation only became Iwo Jima after the Japanese military mis-pronounced it as they fortified the island during WW2.
The change is stirring some feelings among American and Japanese veterans of the Battle of Iwo Jima and of the Pacific War in general, however, who had long identified the island and identified their experience with the name Iwo Jima. "Frankly, I don't like it", said retired United States Marine Corps Major General Fred Haynes, a veteran of the battle. "That name is so much a part of our tradition, our legacy." The original inhabitants make a similar argument for supporting the change, stating that the mis-pronunciation shows disrespect and ignorance toward the island's history and culture.
The original inhabitants of Ioto were relocated from the island during WW2 and had not been able to return because it is being used exclusively for military purposes since 1945.
The central government in Tokyo will release the official map noting the new pronunciation of Ioto on 1 Sep 2007.
As an aside, besides jima and to, the Japanese word for island can also be read as shima.
Source: Geographical Survey Institute of Japan (in Japanese).
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