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Battle of Okinawa
Part of World War II, the Pacific War
Two Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines advance on Wana Ridge on May 18, 1945
A Marine from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines on Wana Ridge provides covering fire with his Thompson gun, May, 1945.
Date April 1, 1945 – June 22, 1945
Location Okinawa, Japan
Result Allied victory
 United States

United Kingdom British Commonwealth

Japan Empire of Japan
United States Simon B. Buckner 

United States Roy Geiger

United States Joseph Stilwell

United States Chester W. Nimitz
United States Raymond A. Spruance
United Kingdom Bruce Fraser

Japan Mitsuru Ushijima 

Japan Isamu Chō 

Japan Hiromichi Yahara #

Japan Minoru Ota 
Japan Keizō Komura

183,000[1] More than 100,000[citation needed]
Casualties and losses
12,513 killed
38,916 wounded,
33,096 non-combat losses
110,000 killed
7,400–10,755 captured

Estimated 42,000–150,000 civilians killed

The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II.[2][3] The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June, 1945.

The battle has been referred to as the "Typhoon of Steel" in English, and tetsu no ame ("rain of steel") or tetsu no bōfū ("violent wind of steel") in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of gunfire involved, and to the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle resulted in one of the highest number of casualties of any World War Two engagement. Japan lost over 100,000 troops, and the Allies suffered more than 50,000 casualties, with over 12,000 killed in action, while hundreds of thousands[citation needed] of civilians were killed, wounded or committed suicide. Approximately one-quarter of the civilian population died due to the invasion. Five divisions of the U.S. Tenth Army, the 7th, 27th, 77th, 81st, and 96th, and two Marine Divisions, the 1st and 6th, fought on the island while the 2nd Marine Division remained as an amphibious reserve and was never brought ashore. The invasion was supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.

The main objective of the operation was to seize a large island only 340 miles away from mainland Japan. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and planned to use Okinawa as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japanese mainland, coded Operation Downfall. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Soviet entry into the war caused Japan to surrender just weeks after the end of the fighting at Okinawa.


Order of battle



U.S. Navy

Most of the air-to-air fighters and the small dive bombers and strike aircraft were U.S. Navy carrier-based airplanes. The Japanese had used kamikaze tactics since the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but for the first time, they became a major part of the defense. Between the American landing on April 1 and May 25, seven major kamikaze attacks were attempted, involving more than 1,500 planes. The U.S. Navy sustained greater casualties in this operation than in any other battle of the war.

British Commonwealth

Although Allied land forces were entirely composed of U.S. units, the British Pacific Fleet (BPF; known to the U.S. Navy as Task Force 57) provided about a quarter of Allied naval air power (450 planes). It comprised many ships, including 50 warships of which 17 were aircraft carriers, but the British armoured flight decks meant that fewer planes could be carried in a single aircraft carrier, although the carriers were more resistant to kamikaze strikes. Although all the aircraft carriers were provided by the UK, the carrier group was a combined British Commonwealth fleet with British, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian ships and personnel. Their mission was to neutralize Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands and provide air cover against Japanese kamikaze attacks.

Naval battle

USS Bunker Hill burns after being hit by two kamikaze within 30 seconds

The British Pacific Fleet was assigned the task of neutralizing the Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands, which it did successfully from March 26 until April 10. On April 10, its attention was shifted to airfields on northern Formosa. The force withdrew to San Pedro Bay on April 23. Although by then a commonplace event for the U.S. Navy, this was the longest time that a Royal Naval fleet of that size had been maintained at sea.[citation needed]

There was a hypnotic fascination to the sight so alien to our Western philosophy. We watched each plunging kamikaze with the detached horror of one witnessing a terrible spectacle rather than as the intended victim. We forgot self for the moment as we groped hopelessly for the thought of that other man up there.

Vice Admiral C.R. Brown[4]

On May 1, the British Pacific Fleet returned to action, subduing the airfields as before, this time with naval bombardment as well as aircraft. Several kamikaze attacks caused significant damage, but since the British used armored flight decks on their aircraft carriers, they only experienced a brief interruption to their force's objective.[5]

In the three-month battle for Okinawa, the Japanese flew 1,900 kamikaze missions, sinking dozens of Allied ships and killing more than 5,000 U.S. sailors at the cost of 1,465 expended kamikaze planes (2,200 other Japanese and 763 U.S. aircraft were also destroyed, including during the land battle). The ships lost were smaller vessels, particularly the destroyers of the radar pickets, as well as destroyer escorts and landing ships. While no major Allied warship was lost, several fleet carriers were severely damaged. Land-based motorboats were also used in the Japanese suicide attacks.

The protracted length of the campaign under stressful conditions forced Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to take the unprecedented step of relieving the principal naval commanders to rest and recuperate. Following the practice of changing the fleet designation with the change of commanders, U.S. naval forces began the campaign as the U.S. Fifth Fleet under Admiral Raymond Spruance, but ended it as the U.S. Third Fleet under Admiral William Halsey.

Operation Ten-Go

The Japanese battleship Yamato explodes after persistent attacks from U.S. aircraft

Operation Ten-Go (Ten-gō sakusen) was the attempted attack by a strike force of Japanese surface vessels led by the battleship Yamato, commanded by Admiral Seiichi Itō. This small task force had been ordered to fight through enemy naval forces, then beach themselves and fight from shore using their guns as artillery and crewmen as naval infantry. The Yamato and other vessels in Operation Ten-Go were spotted by submarines shortly after leaving Japanese home waters, and were attacked by U.S. carrier aircraft.

Under attack from more than 300 aircraft over a two-hour span, the world's largest battleship sank on April 7, 1945, long before she could reach Okinawa. U.S. torpedo bombers were instructed to only aim for one side to prevent effective counter flooding by the battleship's crew, and hitting preferably the bow or stern, where armor was believed to be the thinnest. Of the Yamato's screening force, the light cruiser Yahagi, and four out of the eight destroyers were also sunk. In all, the Imperial Japanese Navy lost some 3,700 sailors, including Itō, at the cost of only ten U.S. aircraft and 12 airmen.

Land battle

A map of U.S. operations during the battle

The land battle took place over about 81 days beginning April 1, 1945.

The first Americans ashore were soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division, who landed in the Kerama Islands (Kerama Retto), 15 miles (24 km) west of Okinawa on March 26, 1945. Subsidiary landings followed, and the Kerama group was secured over the next five days. In these preliminary operations, the 77th Infantry Division suffered 27 dead and 81 wounded, while Japanese dead and captured numbered over 650. The operation provided a protected anchorage for the fleet and eliminated the threat from suicide boats.

On March 31 Marines of the Fleet Marine Force Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion landed without opposition on Keise Shima, four islets just 8 miles (13 km) west of the Okinawan capital of Naha. 155 mm Long Toms went ashore on the islets to cover operations on Okinawa.

Northern Okinawa

U.S. Marine reinforcements wade ashore to support the beachhead on Okinawa, March 31, 1945

The main landing was made by XXIV Corps and III Amphibious Corps on the Hagushi beaches on the western coast of Okinawa on L-Day, April 1, which was both Easter Sunday and April Fools' Day in 1945. The 2nd Marine Division conducted a demonstration off the Minatoga beaches on the southeastern coast to confuse the Japanese about American intentions and delay movement of reserves from there.

Tenth Army swept across the south-central part of the island with relative ease by World War II standards, capturing the Kadena and the Yomitan airbases. In light of the weak opposition, General Buckner decided to proceed immediately with Phase II of his plan—the seizure of northern Okinawa. The 6th Marine Division headed up the Ishikawa Isthmus. The land was mountainous and wooded, with the Japanese defenses concentrated on Yae-Take, a twisted mass of rocky ridges and ravines on the Motobu Peninsula. There was heavy fighting before the Marines finally cleared the peninsula on April 18.

Meanwhile, the 77th Infantry Division assaulted Ie Shima, a small island off the western end of the peninsula, on April 16. In addition to conventional hazards, the 77th Infantry Division encountered suicide bombers, and even Japanese women armed with spears. There was heavy fighting before Ie Shima was declared secured on April 21 and became another air base for operations against Japan.

Southern Okinawa

F4U Corsair fighter firing rockets in the support of the troops on Okinawa
Marines pass through a destroyed small village where a Japanese soldier lies dead
A Marine demolition crew watches explosive charges detonate and destroy a Japanese cave
American soldiers of the 77th Division listen impassively to radio reports of Victory in Europe Day on May 8, 1945
Lt. Col. Richard P. Ross, commander of 1st Battalion, 1st Marines braves sniper fire to place the division's colors on a parapet of Shuri Castle on May 30th. This flag was first raised over Cape Gloucester and then Peleliu

While the Marines cleared northern Okinawa, XXIV Corps wheeled south across the narrow waist of Okinawa. The 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions encountered fierce resistance from Japanese troops holding fortified positions on high ground and engaged in desperate hand to hand combat in west-central Okinawa along Cactus Ridge, about five miles (8 km) northwest of Shuri. By the night of April 8 the XXIV Corps had cleared these and several other strongly fortified positions. They suffered over 1,500 battle casualties in the process, while killing or capturing about 4,500 Japanese, yet the battle had only just begun, for it was now realized they were merely outposts guarding the Shuri Line.

The next American objective was Kakazu Ridge, two hills with a connecting saddle that formed part of Shuri's outer defenses. The Japanese had prepared their positions well and fought tenaciously. Fighting was fierce. Japanese soldiers hid in fortified caves armed with hidden machine guns and explosives; American forces often lost many men before clearing the Japanese out from each cave or other hiding place. The Japanese would send the Okinawans at gunpoint out to acquire water and supplies for them, which induced casualties among civilians. The American advance was inexorable but resulted in massive casualties sustained by both sides.

As the American assault against Kakazu Ridge stalled, General Ushijima, influenced by General Chō, decided to take the offensive. On the evening of April 12, 32nd Army attacked American positions across the entire front. The Japanese attack was heavy, sustained, and well organized. After fierce close combat the attackers retreated, only to repeat their offensive the following night. A final assault on April 14 was again repulsed. The entire effort led 32nd Army's staff to conclude that the Americans were vulnerable to night infiltration, but that their superior firepower made any offensive Japanese troop concentrations extremely dangerous, and they reverted to their defensive strategy.

The 27th Infantry Division, which had landed on April 9, took over on the right, along the west coast of Okinawa. General Hodge now had three divisions in the line, with the 96th in the middle, and the 7th on the east, with each division holding a front of only about 1.5 miles (2.4 km).

Hodge launched a new offensive of April 19 with a barrage of 324 guns, the largest ever in the Pacific Ocean Theater. Battleships, cruisers, and destroyers joined the bombardment, which was followed by 650 Navy and Marine planes attacking the enemy positions with napalm, rockets, bombs, and machine guns. The Japanese defenses were sited on reverse slopes, where the defenders waited out the artillery barrage and aerial attack in relative safety, emerging from the caves to rain mortar rounds and grenades upon the Americans advancing up the forward slope.

A tank assault on Kakazu Ridge, launched without sufficient infantry support in the hope of a breakthrough, failed with the loss of 22 tanks. Although flame tanks cleared many cave defenses, there was no breakthrough, and the XXIV Corps lost 720 killed, wounded or missing. The losses might have been greater, except for the fact that the Japanese had practically all of their infantry reserves tied up farther south, held there by another feint off the Minatoga beaches by the 2nd Marine Division that coincided with the attack.

At the end of April, the 1st Marine Division relieved the 27th Infantry Division, and the 77th Infantry Division relieved the 7th. When the 6th Marine Division arrived, III Amphibious Corps took over the right flank and Tenth Army assumed control of the battle.

On May 4, the 32nd Army launched another counteroffensive. This time Ushijima attempted to make amphibious assaults on the coasts behind American lines. To support his offensive, the Japanese artillery moved into the open. By doing so they were able to fire 13,000 rounds in support but American counter-battery fire destroyed 19 guns on May 4 and 40 more over the next two days. The attack was a complete failure.

Buckner launched another American attack on May 11. Ten days of fierce fighting followed. On May 13, troops of the 96th Infantry Division and 763d Tank Battalion captured Conical Hill. Rising 476 feet (145 m) above the Yonabaru coastal plain, this feature was the eastern anchor of the main Japanese defenses and was defended by about 1,000 Japanese. Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, the 6th Marine Division fought for "Sugar Loaf Hill". The capture of these two key positions exposed the Japanese around Shuri on both sides. Buckner hoped to envelop Shuri and trap the main Japanese defending force.

By the end of May, monsoon rains which turned contested slopes and roads into a morass exacerbated both the tactical and medical situations. The ground advance began to resemble a World War I battlefield as troops became mired in mud and flooded roads greatly inhibited evacuation of wounded to the rear. Troops lived on a field sodden by rain, part garbage dump and part graveyard. Unburied Japanese bodies decayed, sank in the mud, and became part of a noxious stew. Anyone sliding down the greasy slopes could easily find their pockets full of maggots at the end of the journey.[6]

On May 29, Major General Pedro del Valle, commanding the 1st Marine Division, ordered Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines to capture Shuri Castle. Seizure of the castle represented both strategic and psychological blows for the Japanese and was a milestone in the campaign. Del Valle was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership in the fight and the subsequent occupation and reorganization of Okinawa. Shuri Castle had been shelled for 3 days prior to this advance by the USS Mississippi.[7] Due to this, the 32nd Army withdrew to the south and thus the marines had an easy task of securing Shuri Castle.[7][8] The castle, however, was outside the 1st Marine Division's assigned zone and only frantic efforts by the commander and staff of the 77th Infantry Division prevented an American air strike and artillery bombardment which would have resulted in many casualties due to friendly fire.

Either by design or the "fog of war", Buckner did not detect the Japanese general retreat to their second line of defense in the Kiyan Peninsula, which ultimately led to the greatest slaughter on Okinawa in the latter stages of the battle, including the deaths of thousands of civilians.

By June 4, only some 30,000 poorly-armed (most of their heavy and even personal weapons lost during the withdrawal) soldiers were left in the 32nd Army, including few (20%) surviving trained combat troops. In addition, there were 9,000 IJN troops supported by 1,100 militia holed up at the fortified area of the Okinawa Naval Base Force in the Oroku Peninsula.

Later that day, the Americans launched an amphibious assault on the Oroku Peninsula in order to secure their western flank. After several days of bitter fighting, the Japanese were pushed to the far south of the island.

On June 18, Buckner was killed by enemy artillery fire while monitoring the progress of his troops. Buckner was replaced by Roy Geiger. Upon assuming command, Geiger became the only U.S. Marine to command a numbered army of the U.S. Army in combat. He was relieved five days later by Joseph Stilwell.

The island fell on June 21, 1945, although some Japanese continued fighting, including the future governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Masahide Ota.[citation needed]

Ushijima and Chō committed suicide by seppuku in their command headquarters on Hill 89 in the closing hours of the battle. Colonel Yahara had asked Ushijima for permission to commit suicide, but the general refused his request, saying:

"If you die there will be no one left who knows the truth about the battle of Okinawa. Bear the temporary shame but endure it. This is an order from your army Commander."[9]

Yahara was the most senior officer to have survived the battle on the island, and he later authored a book entitled The Battle for Okinawa.


Military losses

The last picture of Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., right, the day before he was killed by Japanese artillery.

U.S. losses were over 50,000 casualties, of whom over 12,000 were killed or missing. This made the battle the bloodiest that U.S. forces experienced in the Pacific war.[10][11][12] Several thousand servicemen who died indirectly (from wounds and other causes) at a later date are not included in the total. One of the most famous U.S. casualties was the war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who was killed by Japanese machine gun fire on Ie Shima.[13] U.S. forces suffered their highest-ever casualty rate for combat stress reaction during the entire war, at 48%, with some 14,000 soldiers retired due to nervous breakdown.[citation needed]

General Buckner's decision to attack the Japanese defenses head-on, although extremely costly in U.S. lives, was ultimately successful. Just four days from the closing of the campaign, General Buckner was killed by Japanese artillery fire while inspecting his troops at the front line. He was the highest-ranking U.S. officer to be killed by enemy fire during the war. The day after, a second general, Brigadier General Claudius M. Easley, was killed by machine gun fire.

At sea 368 Allied ships (including 120 amphibious craft) were damaged while another 28, including 15 amphibious ships and 12 destroyers were sunk during the Okinawa campaign. The U.S. Navy's dead exceeded its wounded with 4,907 killed and 4,874 wounded, primarily from kamikaze attacks.[14] The Japanese lost 16 ships sunk, including the enormous battleship Yamato.

On land the U.S. forces lost at least 225 tanks and many LVTs destroyed while eliminating 27 Japanese tanks and 743 artillery pieces (including mortars, anti-tank guns, and anti-aircraft guns), some of them knocked-out by the naval and air bombardments but most of them knocked-out by American counterbattery fire (e.g. on May 4 American ground and naval artillery knocked-out 19 Japanese artillery guns, while on May 5 and May 6 further 40 pieces). Casualties of American ground artillery are unknown.

A group of Japanese prisoners who preferred surrender to suicide wait to be questioned

By one count, there were about 107,000 Japanese combatants killed and 7,400 captured. Some of the soldiers committed seppuku or simply blew themselves up with hand grenades. In addition, about 20,000 were sealed in their caves alive.[citation needed]

This was also the first battle in the war in which surrendering Japanese were made into POWs by the thousands. Many of the Japanese prisoners were native Okinawans who had been impressed into the Army shortly before the battle and were less imbued with the Japanese Army's no-surrender doctrine.[15] When the American forces occupied the island, the Japanese took Okinawan clothing to avoid capture and the Okinawans came to the Americans' aid by offering a simple way to detect Japanese in hiding. The Okinawan language differs greatly from the Japanese language; with Americans at their sides, Okinawans would give directions to people in the local language, and those who did not understand were considered Japanese in hiding who were then captured.

Civilian losses

Two Marines share a foxhole with an Okinawan war orphan
Overcoming the civilian resistance on Okinawa was aided by propaganda leaflets, one of which is being read by a prisoner awaiting transport

At some battles, such as at Battle of Iwo Jima, there had been no civilians involved, but Okinawa had a large indigenous civilian population and, according to various estimates, somewhere between 1/10 and 1/3 of them died during the battle.[6] Okinawan civilian losses in the campaign were estimated to be between 42,000 and 150,000 dead (more than 100,000 according to Okinawa Prefecture[16]). The U.S. Army figures for the campaign showed a total figure of 142,058 civilian casualties, including those who were killed by artillery fire, air attacks and pressed into service by the Japanese Imperial Army.[6]

During the battle, US soldiers found it difficult to distinguish civilians from soldiers. It became routine for US soldiers to shoot at Okinawan houses, as one infantryman wrote, "There was some return fire from a few of the houses, but the others were probably occupied by civilians - and we didn't care. It was a terrible thing not to distinguish between the enemy and women and children. Americans always had great compassion, especially for children. Now we fired indiscriminately." [17]

In its history of the war, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum[18] presents Okinawa as being caught in the fighting between America and Japan. During the 1945 battle, the Japanese Army showed indifference to Okinawa's defense and safety, and the Japanese soldiers used civilians as human shields against the Americans. Japanese military confiscated food from the Okinawans and executed those who hid it, leading to a mass starvation among the population, and forced civilians out of their shelters. Japanese soldiers also killed about 1,000 Okinawans who still spoke a different local dialect in order to suppress spying.[19] The museum writes that "some were blown apart by shells, some finding themselves in a hopeless situation were driven to suicide, some died of starvation, some succumbed to malaria, while other fell victim to the retreating Japanese troops."[18]


Soldiers on both sides also raped Okinawan civilians and rape by the Japanese troops "became common" in June after it became clear that the Japanese Army had been defeated.[20][21] A historian has estimated that U.S. soldiers committed more than 10,000 rapes during the three-month campaign.[22] In the village of Katsuyama, civilians formed a vigilante group to ambush and kill a group of American soldiers whom they claimed frequently raped the local girls there.[23] Historian George Feifer writes that rape in Okinawa was "another dirty secret of the campaign" in which "American military chronicles ignore [the] crimes." Few Okinawans revealed their pregnancies, as "stress and bad diet ... rendered most Okinawan women infertile. Many who did become pregnant managed to abort before their husbands and fathers returned. A smaller number of newborn infants fathered by Americans were suffocated."[24]


With the impending victory of American troops, civilians often committed mass suicide, urged on by the Japanese soldiers who told locals that victorious American soldiers would go on a rampage of killing and raping. Ryukyu Shimpo, one of the two major Okinawan newspapers, wrote in 2007: "There are many Okinawans who have testified that the Japanese Army directed them to commit suicide. There are also people who have testified that they were handed grenades by Japanese soldiers (to blow themselves up)."[25] Some of the civilians, having been induced by Japanese propaganda to believe that U.S. soldiers were barbarians who committed horrible atrocities, killed their families and themselves to avoid capture. Some of them threw themselves and their family members from the cliffs where the Peace Museum now resides.

However, despite being told by the Japanese military that they would suffer rape, torture and murder at the hands of the Americans, Okinawans "were often surprised at the comparatively humane treatment they received from the American enemy."[26][27] According to Islands of Discontent: Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power by Mark Selden, the Americans "did not pursue a policy of torture, rape, and murder of civilians as Japanese military officials had warned."[28] A Japanese American Military Intelligence Service[29] combat translator with the U.S. military, Teruto "Terry" Tsubota, convinced hundreds of civilians to not kill themselves and thus saved their lives.[30]


American Sherman tanks knocked out by Japanese artillery

Ninety percent of the buildings on the island were completely destroyed, and the lush tropical landscape was turned into "a vast field of mud, lead, decay and maggots".[31]

The military value of Okinawa "exceeded all hope". Okinawa provided a fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in close proximity to Japan. After the battle, the U.S. cleared the surrounding waters of mines in Operation Zebra, occupied Okinawa, and set up the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands, a form of military government.[32] Significant U.S. forces remain garrisoned there, and Kadena remains the largest U.S. air base in Asia.

Some military historians believe that Okinawa led directly to the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as a means of avoiding the planned ground invasion of the Japanese mainland. A prominent holder of this view is Victor Davis Hanson, who states it explicitly in his book Ripples of Battle:

"...because the Japanese on Okinawa, including native Okinawans, were so fierce in their defense (even when cut off, and without supplies), and because casualties were so appalling, many American strategists looked for an alternative means to subdue mainland Japan, other than a direct invasion. This means presented itself, with the advent of atomic bombs, which worked admirably in convincing the Japanese to sue for peace, without American casualties. Ironically, the American conventional fire-bombing of major Japanese cities (which had been going on for months before Okinawa) was far more effective at killing civilians than the atomic bombs and, had the Americans simply continued, or expanded this, the Japanese would likely have surrendered anyway. Nevertheless, the bombs were a powerful symbolic display of American power, and the Japanese capitulated, obviating the need for an invasion of the home islands."

In 1945, Winston Churchill called the battle "among the most intense and famous in military history."

Cornerstone of Peace Memorial with names of all military and civilians from all countries who died in the Battle of Okinawa

In 1995, the Okinawa government erected a memorial named Cornerstone of Peace in Mabuni, the site of the last fighting in southeastern Okinawa.[33] The memorial lists all the known names of those who died in the battle, civilian and military, Japanese and foreign. As of June 2008 it contains 240,734 names.[34]

Suicide order controversy

Okinawan civilians in 1945

There is ongoing major disagreement between Okinawa's local government and Japan's national government over the role of the Japanese military in civilian mass suicides during the battle. In March 2007, the national Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) advised textbook publishers to reword descriptions that the embattled Imperial Japanese Army forced civilians to kill themselves in the war so they would not be taken prisoner by the U.S. military. MEXT preferred descriptions that just say that civilians received hand grenades from the Japanese military.

This move sparked widespread protests among the Okinawans. In June 2007, the Okinawa Prefectoral Assembly adopted a resolution stating, "We strongly call on the (national) government to retract the instruction and to immediately restore the description in the textbooks so the truth of the Battle of Okinawa will be handed down correctly and a tragic war will never happen again."[35]

On September 29, 2007, about 110,000 people held the biggest political rally in the history of Okinawa to demand that MEXT retract its order to textbook publishers on revising the account of the civilian suicides. The resolution stated: "It is an undeniable fact that the 'multiple suicides' would not have occurred without the involvement of the Japanese military and any deletion of or revision to (the descriptions) is a denial and distortion of the many testimonies by those people who survived the incidents."[36]

On December 26, 2007, MEXT partially admitted the role of the Japanese military in civilian mass suicides.[37] The ministry's Textbook Authorization Council allowed the publishers to reinstate the reference that civilians "were forced into mass suicides by the Japanese military," on condition it is placed in sufficient context. "It can be said that from the viewpoint of the (Okinawa residents), they were forced into the mass suicides," the council report stated.[38] That was, however, not enough for the survivors who said it is important for children today to know what really happened.[39]

Nobel Prize winning author Kenzaburō Ōe has written a booklet which states that the mass suicide order was given by the military during the battle.[40] He was sued by the revisionists, including a wartime commander during the battle, who disputed this and wanted to stop publication of the booklet. At a court hearing on November 9, 2007, Ōe testified: "Mass suicides were forced on Okinawa islanders under Japan's hierarchical social structure that ran through the state of Japan, the Japanese armed forces and local garrisons."[41] On March 28, 2008, the Osaka Prefecture Court ruled in favor of Ōe stating, "It can be said the military was deeply involved in the mass suicides." The court recognized the military's involvement in the mass suicides and murder-suicides, citing the testimony about the distribution of grenades for suicide by soldiers and the fact that mass suicides were not recorded on islands where the military was not stationed.[42]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. ^ Appleman, Roy E.; James M. Burns; Russell A. Gugeler; John Stevens (2000). Okinawa: the last battle. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army. p. 36. 
  2. ^ The United States Navy assembled an unprecedented armada in April 1945
  3. ^ The American invasion of Okinawa was the largest amphibious assault of World War II
  4. ^ John Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936–1945, Random House, 1970, p. 711.
  5. ^ Hastings (2007), p. 401.
  6. ^ a b c Battle of Okinawa,
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^
  9. ^ John Toland, ibid, p. 723.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Reid, Chip. "Ernie Pyle, trail-blazing war correspondent—Brought home the tragedy of D-Day and the rest of WWII", NBC News, June 7, 2004. Accessed April 26, 2006.
  14. ^ The Amphibians Came to Conquer from Hyperwar.
  15. ^ Huber, Thomas M. (May 1990). "Japan's Battle of Okinawa, April–June 1945". Leavenworth Papers. United States Army Command and General Staff College. Retrieved 9 May 2008. 
  16. ^ The Basic Concept of the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum.
  17. ^ Feifer, George, The Battle of Okinawa, The Lyons Press (2001), p. 374
  18. ^ a b The Basic Concept of the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum.
  19. ^ 1945 suicide order still a trauma on Okinawa, IHT, June 21, 2005.
  20. ^ Huber, Thomas M. Japan's Battle of Okinawa, April–June 1945, Command and General Staff College
  21. ^ Appleman, Roy E. (1948). Okinawa: The Last Battle. United States Army in World War II. Washington DC: United States Army Center of Military History. pp. 462. 
  22. ^
  23. ^,8599,170085-2,00.html
  24. ^ Feifer, George, The Battle of Okinawa, The Lyons Press (2001), p. 373
  25. ^ Japan’s Textbooks Reflect Revised History, New York Times, 
  26. ^ Molasky, Michael S., The American Occupation of Japan and Okinawa: Literature and Memory, p. 16,,M1 
  27. ^ Molasky, Michael S.; Rabson, Steve, Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa, p. 22,,M1 
  28. ^ Sheehan, Susan D; Elizabeth, Laura; Selden, Hein Mark, Islands of Discontent: Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power, p. 18 
  29. ^ Military Intelligence Service Research Center: Okinawa.
  30. ^ Defiant soldier saved lives of hundreds of civilians during Okinawa battle, Stars and Stripes, April 1, 2005.
  31. ^ Okinawan History and Karate-do
  32. ^ "Military Government In The Ryukyu Islands, 1945-1950". Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  33. ^ The Cornerstone of Peace
  34. ^ Okinawa is promised reduced base burden, The Japan Times, June 24, 2008
  35. ^ Okinawa slams history text rewrite, Japan Times, June 23, 2007
  36. ^ "110,000 protest history text revision order", The Japan Times, September 30, 2007.
  37. ^ Japan to amend textbook accounts of Okinawa suicides Herald Tribune, December 26, 2007
  38. ^ Texts reinstate army's role in mass suicides: Okinawa prevails in history row Japan Times, December 27, 2007
  39. ^ Okinawa's war time wounds reopened BBC News, 17 November 2007
  40. ^ Japan Times, September 12, 2007, Witness: Military ordered mass suicides
  41. ^ Oe testifies military behind Okinawa mass suicides, Japan Times, November 10, 2007
  42. ^ Court sides with Oe over mass suicides, Japan Times, March 29, 2008

Further reading

  • Appleman, Roy Edgar, Burns, James M., Gugeler, Russel A., and Stevens, John, Gerald (1948). Okinawa: The Last Battle. Washington DC: US Army Center for Military History. ISBN 1-410-22206-3. 
  • Astor, Gerald (1996). Operation Iceberg: The Invasion and Conquest of Okinawa in World War II. Dell. ISBN 0-440-22178-1. 
  • Feifer, George (2001). The Battle of Okinawa: The Blood and the Bomb. The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-215-5. 
  • Fisch, Arnold G (2001). The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: Ryukyus. US Army Center for Military History. ISBN 0-160-48032-9. 
  • Hallas, James H. (2006). Killing Ground on Okinawa: The Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill. Potomac Books. ISBN 1-59797-063-8. 
  • Hastings, Max (2007). Retribution - The Battle for Japan, 1944-45. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-030726-351-3. 
  • Lacey, Laura Homan (2005). Stay Off The Skyline: The Sixth Marine Division on Okinawa—An Oral History. Potomac Books. ISBN 1-57488-952-4. 
  • Manchester, William (1980). Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War. Boston, Toronto: Little, Brown and Co.. ISBN 0-316-54501-5. 
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (2002 (reissue)). Victory in the Pacific, 1945, vol. 14 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Champaign, Illinois, USA: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-07065-8. 
  • Nichols, Charles Sidney; Henry I. Shaw Jr. (1989). Okinawa: Victory in the Pacific. Battery Press. ASIN B00071UAT8. 
  • Rottman, Gordon (2002). Okinawa 1945: The last Battle. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-546-5. 
  • Sledge, E. B.; Paul Fussell (1990). With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506714-2. 
  • Sloan, Bill (2007). The Ultimate Battle: Okinawa 1945--The Last Epic Struggle of World War II. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0743292464. 
  • Yahara, Hiromichi (2001). The Battle for Okinawa. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-18080-7. -Firsthand account of the battle by a surviving Japanese officer.
  • Zaloga, Steven J. Japanese Tanks 1939-45. Osprey, 2007. ISBN 978-1-84603-091-8.

External links

Simple English

Battle of Okinawa
Part of World War II, the Pacific War
A Marine from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines on Wana Ridge provides covering fire with his Thompson submachine gun, May, 1945
Date April 1, 1945 – June 22, 1945
Location Okinawa, Japan
Result Allied victory
 United States
 United Kingdom
 New Zealand
File:Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg Empire of Japan
Simon B. Buckner  †

Roy Geiger

Joseph Stilwell

Chester W. Nimitz
Raymond A. Spruance
Bruce Fraser

File:Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg Mitsuru Ushijima  †

File:Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg Isamu Chō  †

File:Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg Hiromichi Yahara #

Minoru Ota  †
Keizō Komura

183,000[1] 117,000[2]
12,513 killed
38,916 wounded,
33,096 non-combat losses
About 95,000 killed
7,400–10,755 captured
Estimated 42,000–150,000 civilians killed

The Battle of Okinawa, was a great battle of World War II that took place on the island of Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands (south of the four big islands of Japan), between the military forces of the Empire of Japan and the Allies. It was the second biggest amphibious battle (from sea to land) of World War II, after the Battle of Normandy. It was also one of the longest battles in history, from April to June, 1945. The Allies won the battle and occupied Okinawa. Today, Okinawa is Japanese territory, but there are still American military bases there.

Nobody thought it was to be the last great battle of the war, but it was. The Americans were planning Operation Downfall, the invasion of the four great islands of Japan. This never happened, because the Japanese surrendered after the American use of the atomic bomb in August 1945 (first in Hiroshima, and a second time in Nagasaki) and the Soviet Union declaring war on Japan.

The battle has been called "Typhoon of Steel" in English, and "tetsu no ame," "tetsu no bōfū" by the people of Okinawa, which mean "rain of steel" and "violent wind of steel", because of the very heavy firing of guns and bombs at this battle.

At some battles, such as Iwo Jima, there had been no civilians, but Okinawa had a lot of civilian population. The civilians dead or injured in the battle were at least 150,000. American deaths were 18,900 killed or missing and 53,000 injured, more than double of the soldiers killed at Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal put together. Several thousand soldiers who died from wounds and other causes, after the battle had finished, are not included. About a third of the civilian population of the island were killed. There were about 100,000 Japanese soldiers killed and 7,000 captured. Some of the soldiers committed seppuku or simply blew themselves up with grenades. Some of the civilians, convinced by Japanese propaganda that the Americans were barbarians who did terrible things to prisoners, killed their families and themselves to avoid capture.

In 1945, Winston Churchill called the battle "among the most intense and famous in military history."


  1. Appleman, Roy E.; James M. Burns; Russell A. Gugeler; John Stevens (2000). Okinawa: the last battle. Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. p. 36. 
  2. [1]

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