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Okinawa

OKINAWA


OKINAWA lies at the midpoint of the Ryukyu Island chain, located between Japan and Taiwan. A minor Japanese base during most of World War II, Okinawa became important when U.S. planners decided to seize it as a staging point for their projected invasion of Japan. The assault began on 1 April 1945. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima, commanding Japan's 32d Army, allowed Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner's U.S. 10th Army to storm ashore virtually unopposed. Instead of trying to defend the beaches, Ushijima's troops burrowed into caves and tunnels in a succession of low ridges lying between the beaches and Shuri, the capital. Army and Marine Corps attackers eliminated the dug-in Japanese with "blowtorch" (flamethrower) and "corkscrew" (demolition charge) tactics at heavy cost to themselves.

Driven late in May from their Shuri line, the Japanese retreated to Okinawa's southern tip, where both commanders perished by the battle's end on 21 June. Ushijima died by ritual suicide (hara-kiri), and Buckner was killed by one of the last artillery shells fired by the Japanese. Earlier, on the adjacent islet of Ie Shima, the famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle had been killed by a burst fired from a by-passed Japanese machine gun. Equally bitter was the fighting at sea. Japan's air forces hurled more than 4,000 sorties, many by kamikaze suicide planes, at U.S. and British naval forces. In vanquishing 115,000 Japanese defenders, U.S. losses totaled 38 ships of all types sunk and 368 damaged; 4,900 U.S. Navy servicemen died; and U.S. Army and U.S. Marine fatalities numbered 7,900.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Belote, James H., and William M. Belote, Typhoon of Steel: The Battle for Okinawa. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

Foster, Simon. Okinawa 1945. London: Arms and Armour, 1994.

Frank, Benis M. Okinawa: Capstone to Victory. New York: Ballan-tine Books, 1970.

Leckie, Robert. Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II. New York: Viking, 1995.

James H.Belote

William M.Belote/a. r.

See alsoJapan, Relations with ; World War II, Navy in .

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Okinawa

Okinawa (ō´kĬnä´wä), island (1990 pop. 1,222,458), 454 sq mi (1,176 sq km), W Pacific Ocean, SW of Kyushu; a part of Okinawa prefecture, Japan. It is the largest of the Okinawa Islands in the Ryukyu Islands archipelago. Naha is the largest city and chief port. Okinawa is a long, narrow, irregularly shaped island of volcanic origin with coral formations in the southern part. The northern part is mountainous, rising to 1,657 ft (505 m), and has dense vegetation. Most of the island's population is in the south. Okinawa has a humid subtropical climate. Sugarcane, sweet potatoes, and rice are grown, sugar is refined, cattle are raised, and fishing and tourism are important. There is some light industry in Naha.

Okinawa was the scene of the last great U.S. amphibious campaign in World War II. U.S. army and marine forces landed there on Apr. 1, 1945, and fought one of the bloodiest campaigns of the war, while the navy offshore suffered heavy damage in resisting attacks by suicide planes (see kamikaze). The Japanese garrison, having lost 103,000 of its 120,000 men, ended organized resistance on June 21, 1945. U.S. casualties were 48,000, one fourth listed as dead. Okinawa was placed in Aug., 1945, under a U.S. military governor and remained under U.S. control until May, 1972, when it was returned to Japan. U.S. military bases were allowed to remain on the island; about three quarters of the American forces based in Japan are in Okinawa. Opposition to the bases from local residents grew in the mid-1990s, and in 2006 the United States and Japan agreed to redeploy 8,000 U.S. marines to Guam and relocate other U.S. forces from the greater Naha area to another part of Okinawa. In 2009 a new Japanese government reconsidered the plan but ultimately accepted (2010) it, and a revised agreement was reached in 2012.

See J. Belote and W. Belote, Typhoon of Steel: The Battle for Okinawa (1970).

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Okinawa

Okinawa Largest island of the Okinawa archipelago, sw of mainland Japan, part of the Ryukyu Islands group in the w Pacific Ocean; the major settlement is Naha. The n is mountainous, densely forested and sparsely populated. Economic activity, such as agriculture and fishing, is concentrated in the s. In April 1945, US troops landed, and met fierce Japanese resistance. Okinawa surrendered in June 1945 after many casualties. Area: 1176sq km (454sq mi). Pop. (2000) 1,318,000.

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Okinawa

Okinawa •Aconcagua •aqua, sub-aqua •Chihuahua, Kurosawa, Massawa, Okinawa, Tokugawa •Qwaqwa • Quechua •Chichewa, rewarewa •Ojibwa • Interlingua • siliqua • Iowa •Medawar • Te Kanawa • Ottawa

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