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The Struggle For Okinawa

The war between the United States and Japan was one the heavily fought battles. The war ended with the dropping of the atom bomb by the US in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. This paper will examine some of the issues of that was faced by the Army, Marines, the Okinawans and the Japanese soldiers. Therefore this research will concentrate on the Kamikaze invasion and the Japanese civilians mass suicides, the US Congress study on the attack, what strategies that the two sides i.e. Japan and the US adopted and the part played by Okinawa in annexing Tokyo, Okinawa's strategic value, the propaganda of the Japanese soldiers and the difficulties encountered by the Marines and the Army.


Several wars were fought during the 20 century as continents and countries made greater effort to put forth themselves as power-movers as regards social, economic, political and military prowess. Alongside this, several wars were fought and Cold Wars that ushered remarkable changes, particularly on the global arena and impacted the manner in which countries mutual relations exhibited. The striking features is that some of these battles led to formation of permanent hostility between and among nations whereas in some situations treaty between nations were forged which still lasts in the current era. While the 20th century saw the great wars that have been fought among nations, the two crucial wars that people are nostalgic about to this day are the First World War and the Second World War. But regardless of the reality that these wars were responsible for shaping the social, economic, political and military regions around the world, the Second World War is more striking as compared to First World War.

Alongside this, some of the important players who fought the war were the US & Japan. The US got somewhat passively involved in the war until the surprise bombing on Pearl Habour by the Japanese that led to the decimation of its military unit in the Pearl Harbour. This gesture of Japan stirred the hornet's nest, who for the first time since the beginning of this War understood the urgency to undertake an active part in forging an alliance and participating in the war. The rise of the US lead to greater altercation approach to the Second World War, with an eye on striking back against Japan that in the opinion of US had used double in fighting the US. The US made use of important geographical areas in Asia in order to take vengeance against Japan. One of these areas was the island of Okinawa which was witnessed on the deadliest battles in the Pacific campaigns.

To set the ball rolling, Okinawa remained the biggest amphibious attack of the Pacific operation and the ultimate important operation of the Pacific War. Due to this, greater troops were deployed on the shore, additional ships were deployed, extra rations transported, more bombs dropped, more naval guns blasted aimed at the shore targets compared to any other armed activity within the Pacific. The battle of Okinawa claimed more lives than the atom bomb devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fatalities numbered more than 38,000 Americans injured and 12,000 dead or missing, in excess of 1,07,000 Japanese and Okinawan were conscripts killed and seemingly 1,00,000 countrymen were swept away in the violence (Global Security 2010). These and a lot of other instances of fatalities have been documented during the analysis of the Okinawa war. After this perspective, it becomes crucial at this juncture to fathom deeper into the aggression of Kamikaze and mass suicide of the Japanese countrymen; the inquiry into the attacks by the US Congress because of the continuous killings; the strategies applied by both the sides i.e. the US and Japan, and the part played by Okinawa in annexing Tokyo.

Research Finding and Discussion Kamikaze Attacks and the Mass Suicides of the Japanese Civilians

One of the key intimidations to the US military during the Okinawa war was the Kamikaze aggression that started in October 1944. The application of Kamikaze implying 'divine wind' in thwarting the US invasion of Japan was a ploy implemented by the Japanese Govt. to address the looming invasion of the US. It can be debated in reference to Marx (2008) that the Japanese leaders manning the military arrangement designed and accomplished the methodical carnage of their youth even though knowing that there is no expectation of being triumphant. (p10) Going by this standpoint, the Kamikaze invasion were nothing short of suicide attacks that were carried out by the Japanese pilots as a means of unleashing surprise attacks on US ships in the pacific. In the Kamikaze attacks different roles were played on the US and in this war in particular. It is to be noted that the US military operations were severely scared by the Kamikaze pilots that had acute psychological ramifications on the leaders of the US and its soldiers (p12).

Notably, the Japanese military was fully distraught and the lone way the country could recover and avoid a complete rout was to surrender its own countrymen in suicide missions aimed to put a psychological impact of the leaders & soldiers of US and therefore alleviate their progress and impact on Okinawa. It goes without saying that the Kamikaze invasion was successfully managed to infuse panic in the minds of the US leaders as also the soldiers. However, this prompted as a persuasive force among the US military as a war which must be won by all means. A deluge of mass suicides among the Japanese were happening as they occupied the American in the Okinawa War. In Dodd and Richmond's (1999) reference, it is anticipated that a third of the population of Okinawa lost their lives in the battle, a lot more in mass suicides that happened prior to the suicide which others succumbed to sickness and starvation. (p745). Regardless of the truth that majority of the Japanese citizens as also the soldiers particularly the pilots died in mass suicide missions combating the US because of their conventional military attitudes, it was a terrible cost to the US on the material front. (Hellegers 2001, p35).

US Congress Investigation of the Invasion

The Okinawa war still remains in the realms of mind of almost every American and war historians, scholars and researchers in the US and around the world. In addition to being among the deadliest wars that implicated the US military, it is remembered as a war in which the US lost many men. It has been recorded that the American casualties were so huge that the US Congress directed an investigation into the conduct of the American military commanders (Ryan, 2007, p80). This was more exacerbated by the reality that this war in terms of casualties, time and material put a heavy toll in the catastrophic decision to drop the atom bomb in Japan just a month and half later (p80).

Here it is vital to bear in mind that no detailed intelligence report is available to depict much regarding Okinawa. Due to this, the island was not considered seriously by the US military regardless of the fact that this remained a vital point in attacking Japan's mainland. Thus the investigations orders by the Congress were to scrutinize the reasons behind maximum casualty levels and the dispirited military costs in this war. For every one US military casualty, six Japanese lost their lives as per estimates at one point of time.

Strategies applied by both sides

Different strategies were used by the two warring sides in the Okinawa war. To start with, the application of Kamikaze in fighting the US was among the crucial war strategies of Japan regardless of the reality that this implied sacrificing more civilian people. The result being, deployment at Kamikaze was done to raze American warships as a method to wean their involvement in this battle. In a reference to Wood (2007), the Shimpu air strategy taken up during 1944 was a useful as also a comparatively effective means of engaging and meting out large scale destruction on US naval forces at a period when no alternative method of air strikes were successful. (Wood, 2007, p96).

The important point of using Kamikaze as a strategy was to halt the naval forces so as to lower their attacking capability of Okinawa Island and Japan's mainland. Apart from this, the Japanese carrier were required to be secured and developed to augment its potential to defend against the US attacks as also be capable of launching war planes against the US. This apart, the Japanese Govt. coached a greater part of its civilian population with military tactics who were capable of fighting with efficiency of the military. Conversely, the USA initiated heavy air strikes as its crucial strategy that devastated the Japanese military bases, particularly their military aircrafts (Williams, 2005, p51). Next in line was land troop whose responsibility was clearing the remaining scanty resistance. But this approach was augmented more in Okinawa wherein high cost was involved or instead of arsenals, that were not comparable to any other war in which the US participated during the Second World War.

Role of Okinawa in capturing Tokyo

Okinawa contributed a key role leading to the annexation of Tokyo by the US military personnel in the Pacific war. Conspicuously, the first reports pointed that no intelligence information in respect of the contribution of Okinawa in helping the American military to annex Tokyo and therefore throw Japan was available. Initially, Okinawa gave a strategic front to the US which helped them to easily bombard Tokyo from this geographical location. Aligned with this, promotion of carriers was not made for launching military aircrafts. Hence, USA raised airbases in Okinawa that would be subsequently used for attacking on Tokyo. In the opinion of Crozier (2005, p47), the Okinawa Island was the main location used by the US Military to open its attack on Japan.

Conversely, the opposition that was undergone by the US at Okinawa contributed significantly in stirring up the US to go ahead with more attacks on Tokyo and Japan. Following evaluation of its fatalities, the US decided to drop the atom bomb on Tokyo towards settling of scores on Japan and compelling it to surrender before the US and sign a peace accord. As stated in the foregoing paragraphs, the cost of the Okinawa battle as regards lives lost, time consumed and material supported strongly to arrive at the decision by the US to drop the atom bomb against Tokyo six weeks from then. (Ryan, 2007, p80). To put it differently, the pronouncement of the US to drop the atom bomb against Tokyo was impacted in part by the prevailing conditions on Okinawa Island. Hence, the Okinawa Island apart from being an attacking front of the US military, also contributed significantly in the military decisions that were undertaken against Japan.

Strategic Importance of Okinawa

In the Okinawa war, strategic importance of Okinawa was relevant to both the American and Japanese. To both the nations, Okinawa was strategically located from the geographic point of view. Kawashima (2005) in his reference has talked about the geographical significance of Okinawa as being close to all important cities in East Asia (p43). In line with this, the bases in Okinawa were important strategic locations for the installation of the forces of the United States. In addition to being a hub from which the United States could reach the neighboring cities in Japan and other regions of Asia, Okinawa was prevalent as a camping location of the US soldiers as they landed on the war field. Almost all the soldiers camped at Okinawa prior to approaching the battlefields.

Likewise, a portion of the military costs could verily be cut down by erecting airfields in the location that permitted the US to react quickly to any assault of Japan as also evaluate and collect crucial intelligence data from this point. Japan also focused Okinawa as one of the important location to their success in this battle. In the opinion of Allen (2002), the Okinawans carried the twin problem of botheration as a threat to the Japanese triumph in this Battle (p33). While the Japanese military supposed this, they even realized that the populace of the Okinawa could be the source for all that crucial labor needs to the Japanese military at the time of the war. As a consequence, majority of the Okinawas, young men, boys and girls were enrolled in the Japanese military that would be a source of labour along with the villagers. (p33). Several people from Okinawa were sent away to the mountains and caves with just their clothes, while their other belongings were diverted to be used as military supplies. This stemmed from the reality that is was believed that the Okinawans did not belong to the Japanese community.

Japanese Soldiers' Propaganda

The Okinawa war was also marked by the Japanese Soldiers' misinformation that was crafted to disorient the US soldiers from charting their path towards victory. Alongside this, among the misinformation programs that were employed by the Japanese soldiers centered on the debate that Americans were nothing short of monsters who were keen on inflicting atrocities against the Japanese at the time of war. (Hellegers, 2001, p65) The motive behind this was to instill fear among the Japanese people that the American were combating for a moral cause as also for dispiriting the Japanese people from disclosing any information that could place Americans at a advantageous potion in the Okinawa war.

Strangely, the Japanese misinformation campaign did not even leave its soldiers who were dispirited from surrendering before the American military regardless of the situation that majority of them were besieged by the soldiers of the US. This led to the situation where the Japanese soldiers chose to fight to the tipping point instead of surrendering before the Americans. Moreover, some of these soldiers committed suicide when they were trounced by the soldiers of the US, thereby rendering it intricate to detain Japanese soldiers. Particularly, the Japanese misinformation campaign emphasized that anybody surrendering before the American military would have to bear persecution from the American who were seen as ruthless and were prepared to rape, torment and snuff out the lives of the Japanese. This gesture enlarged their fear factor, not just among the Japanese people, but also among its soldiers while concurrently raising their disgust towards the Americans without leaving any stone unturned to kill the Americans or annihilate their military arsenals.

Challenges faced by the Marines and the Army

The Marines and the Army faced several challenges. To set the ball rolling, the assaults from the Kamikaze were some of the terrifying attacks that were encountered by the US military as these groups of people were suicide bombers. These bombers did not bother about their death so long they were successful in killing a dozen American along with them. (Jamieson, 2009, p14). This was noticeable when the Marines and the Army were attacked even prior to landing in the shore. In the aftermath, almost all Marines and the Army were psychologically jolted as they feared possible retaliation from the Kamikaze and the Japanese soldiers. Apart from his, the problem of logistics even stood as a challenge before the Marines and the Army. It is to be noted that the Army as well as the Marines were believed to confront the army. But the Army and the Marines employ separate strategies in war.

Quoting a reference to Jamieson (2009, p17), the Army treads slowly on the battle front while the Marine use a strategy of moving very swiftly and consequently the Army and the Marines flanked each other (p44) This made their battles harder and almost all of them lay in front of the enemy line of attack. Ultimately, the Army and the Marines were impacted by added external problems like forest rot, fleas, Hepatitis A, Dengue fever and dysentery. Both, the Army as well as Marines encountered these challenges. The condition deteriorated by the reduction of medical supplies or was delayed due to intense fire. To top it, some of these Marines and Armies had lost their colleagues or platoon resulting in tension and despair.


The Second World War, as stated in the foregoing paragraphs is bore in mind with nostalgia among majority of people in the current world. Especially, this battle outlines the manner in which people and countries interact with one another. While some countries were seen forging alliances, other formed permanent enemies. Specific war instances which were fought had particular effect on the participants and on other individuals who encircled the location of events. Okinawa is among the regions in Asia that witnessed the fiercest bloody wars which is remembered even to in the present era.

The invasion of the Kamikaze was seen as workable by the Japanese military only for them to fall short in the crucial final stages. This inflicted several casualties on the US military. Besides, mass suicides of the Japanese civilians were reported. Because of the huge number of deaths at the time of the war, the US Congress ordered investigation of the conduct of the military officials.

Furthermore, Okinawa contributed in a critical manner in helping the US and Japan to carry out their strategies. This was helped by the fact that Okinawa was strategically located on the geographic aspect, and the Okinawans played an important part, both to the Japanese and the US soldiers. History recorded severe instances of suffering and other challenges encountered by the Marines and the Amy. These challenges stalled the movements of the Marines and the Army as well since they headed towards their enemies. This has brought reforms within the military to make sure that the Second World War blunders are not repeated in any manner.


Allen, M. (2002). Identity and Resistance in Okinawa. Cumnor Hill, Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.

Crozier, B. (2005). Political victory: the elusive prize of military wars. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Dodd, J. & Richmond, S. (1999). Japan: the Rough Guide. Rough Guide Travel Series. Shorts Garden, London: Rough Guides.

Global Security. (2010). Military: Battle of Okinawa. Retrieved from

Hellegers, D.M. (2001). We, the Japanese people: World War II and the origins of the Japanese constitution, Volume 1. California: Stanford University Press.

Jamieson. M.D.J. (2009). Once a Marine...: Honoring the Life of My Father Captain Roger Jamieson, Usmcr (Ret.). Indianapolis: Dog Ear Publishing.

Kawashima, Y. (2005). Japanese foreign policy at the crossroads: challenges and options for the twenty-first century. Brookings Press.

Marx, T. (2008). Kamikaze - an Approach to the Historical and Psychological Backgrounds. Norderstedt: GRIN Verlag.

Ryan, C. (2007). Battlefield tourism: history, place and interpretation. Jordan Hill, Oxford: Elsevier.

Williams, B. (2005). World War Two. Chronicle of America's Wars. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books.

Wood, J.B. (2007). Japanese military strategy in the Pacific War: was defeat inevitable? Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield.

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