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Wed Aug 15, 2012, 11:54 AM

Japanese photographer spotlights Navajo code talkers

World War II veteran Otto Stewart is photographed at Fort Defiance, Ariz., in 2010. ((C) Kenji Kawano)

A Japanese photographer based in the United States is holding an exhibition in Tokyo on the American Indian Navajo people of the American Southwest, including portraits of former World War II code talkers.

Kenji Kawano, 63, is showing 53 black-and-white pieces, which he took between 1975 and 2011, at Shinjuku Nikon Salon in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward.

During World War II, about 400 bilingual Navajo served in the U.S. Marine Corps where they used a coded version of the Navajo language to transmit secret tactical messages, which the Japanese military never managed to break.

For example, the word "tank" was replaced by "turtle" before the whole English text was translated into the Navajo language.


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