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June 21, 1945

Marine Second Lieutenant John F. Larkin, who was shot in the stomach while clearing a minefield, under the care of Second Lieutenant Susie E. Sumner, one of the first nurses to land on Okinawa.

Source: National Archives

Japanese Defenses Destroyed on Okinawa Island as a Result of a Very Deadly Series of Battles that Started With a US Land Invasion on 1st April

A major battle of the Pacific War was fought on the island of Okinawa by United States Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. The US sought to wrest the island from Japanese control and sever their last southwest supply line to mainland Japan, while establishing the island as a base for American medium bombers. By battle’s end on June 22, there were more than 49,000 American casualties, including nearly 12,000 fatalities. An estimated 90,000 Japanese combatants died in the fighting. A staggering 150,000 Okinawan civilians also perished.

After the battle, Okinawa provided a fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in proximity to Japan in preparation for a planned invasion. Because the Japanese on Okinawa had been 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.

As the battle on Okinawa was ending on June 22nd the Japanese Emperor Hirohito met with his ministers and told them "I desire that concrete plans to end the war, unhampered by existing policy, be speedily studied and that efforts be made to implement them”. He was the head of state under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan during Japan's imperial expansion, militarization, and involvement in World War II.

Further readings: “Emperor Hirohito in 20th Century History: The Debate Rekindles”

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