June 21, 2007

June 21, 1945

From the Marine Corps in Okinawa:

[...] Although America was acquainted with Okinawa in the early 1800s, for most Americans the small island nation went completely unobserved until the abrupt advent of World War II.

Situated on the southern approaches to Japan, the Ryukyu Island chain was geographically situated as to be virtually unavoidable in any American offensive strategy against mainland Japan. The inevitable soon became history when Okinawa became the arena for one of the most ferocious battles of the war. By June, 1944, the Japanese army arrived in force. Casualties mounted quickly as U.S. forces saturated military targets with bombs four months later.

In March, 1945, the first American troops landed on the Kerama Islands as the springboard for America's island leapfrogging strategy. Okinawa was next in line and, on April 1, 1945, the invasion began. After 11 weeks of fierce fighting, the battle of Okinawa was over June 20, 1945. Two months later Japan surrendered. Okinawa was one of the longest and hardest fought campaigns in the history of World War II. Total American battle casualties were estimated at 49,151, including 12,500 killed or missing. Japanese soldiers killed were about 60,000 while one-third of the Okinawan population, about 150,000 died in the "Typhoon of steel."

Because it was considered the key to the invasion of Japan, and because it is also considered a key geographical factor to the defense of the free world in the Pacific area, Okinawa now owns the nickname, "Keystone of the Pacific."

As relief funds, appropriated by the U.S. Congress, began to get pumped into Okinawa in 1946, the island began traveling the steady path to economic recovery. That same year, Okinawa set up its first general hospital, civilian newspaper, bank and courts. By 1950, the country had resumed its foreign trade lines and established a civil government system throughout the Ryukyu islands.

In 1951, a U.S.-Japanese peace treaty gave Americans complete administrative control of the Ryukyu for an indefinite period. By referring to the island as a "residual sovereignty," however, the United States still suggested recognition of Japan's basic ownership of the islands. In addition, the United States promised that, when international circumstances warranted, it would return administrative control of the chain to Japan.

Administrative authority of the Ryukyu Islands was transferred back to Japan May 15, 1972, and Okinawa became a prefectural district of Japan once again.

The island has been a favorite training area for the Marine Corps since post-war units were based here more than 40 years ago. Today, the Corps has eight different facilities on Okinawa to call home: Camps Gonsalves, Schwab, Hansen, Courtney, Lester, Foster, Kinser, and Marine Corps Air Station, Futenma. Beside a significant Marine Corps presence here, Okinawa is also home to a number of major Navy, Army and Air Force units and facilities.

Not to make too much out of it, but the next time a politician says we should withdraw from forward positions in the Middle East and operate out of Okinawa, the fact that anyone could even consider Okinawa as a base is that America took it by force, and have occupied it for 62 years. It certainly wasn't given to us out of the goodness of the Emperor's heart.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at June 21, 2007 10:44 AM

Iíve read a few good books on the campaign. Iíll try to dig out the titles if you are interested.

Posted by: jim at June 21, 2007 10:51 AM

If it's not a lot of trouble, I'd like to know what they are.

And for folks who like online stuff, this is a good article.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 21, 2007 11:16 AM

No trouble i just have to go the the local library and see what they were. One of the best was about the Japanese chief of staff. I'll get the names later this week.

Posted by: jim at June 21, 2007 12:07 PM

If only the library had its card file in some sort of easily searchable electronic format, and if that format could somehow be accessed electronically from a remote location, possibly using some sort of device operating through the telephone lines...

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 21, 2007 12:31 PM

Yer mad, laddie, mad. Information on the phone? Don't be daft.[/scotsman]

It's a good reminder that 11 weeks of warfare on a small island brought us more than 12,000 dead. Can you imagine the moveon-niks after the first day? "We're in a quagmire!" "Harry Truman is worse than Tojo" etc., etc.

Posted by: skinnydan at June 21, 2007 01:24 PM

Well, back then people like that didn't get the same sort of media adulation that fellow-travelers get today.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 21, 2007 01:55 PM

That card file on a screen thing would be fine except I need to see the dust cover to remember which ones: the titles escape me.
Yes, I can remember faces and not names, thank you.

Posted by: jim at June 21, 2007 03:14 PM

Terry, I'm not so sure. How about a capsule review of the work of one Walter Duranty?

Posted by: skinnydan at June 21, 2007 03:17 PM

Oh, Dan--remember what our erstwhile ally Papa Joe once said--"One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic." Of course, Duranty's patron, the Times, has rearranged that a bit, so that now, "One death is another Grim Milestone (as long as that death happens to occur at a nice, round integer, but in any other case is still pretty much a statistic, not that we're actually interested in looking objectively at anything using things such as logic and statistics, unless we can loop it around and fudge the numbers enough to make it work out the way we've already printed it in our stories, so those other deaths aren't really so much a statistic as they are simply fodder for us to use, acting as we have striven to do to function as an organ of opposition to conservatism in general, and George Bush in particular)."

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 21, 2007 03:46 PM