The auditorium at UAA was packed Thursday afternoon for the premiere of a Japanese World War II documentary, which looks at two key battles fought in the Aleutians at Kiska and Attu.

It’s part of a three-day series of events commemorating the 75th Battle of Attu, which is often called the “Forgotten War.”

“My object in doing this movie is to make this the unforgettable war,” Tadashi Okawa said.

The filmmaker interviewed both Japanese and American families, who lost their loved ones in the Aleutians.

Okawa says the Japanese are familiar with other battles that took place during World War II, like those in Pearl Harbor and Papua New Guinea -- because students learn about them in school. But Okawa said he never heard of the Battle of Attu growing up and was shocked to learn about the fierceness of the fighting in the Aleutians.

The same thing is true in the United States, where most are surprised to learn that that Attu was the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil.

The Japanese invaded the island in June of 1942 – and the following May, the Americans succeeded in taking it back. About a thousand American soldiers died in the battle. The Japanese lost twice as many. The Attu Islanders were taken captive and sent to a camp in Japan, where they faced hunger and disease.

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