At 1 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1970, a minor traffic accident involving a drunken American driver and an Okinawan pedestrian in Koza (present-day city of Okinawa) sparked the largest anti-U.S. riot the prefecture had ever seen.

Prior to the accident, tensions in the city had been high — primarily due to a string of crimes in which the American suspects had gone unpunished as well as media reports of a leak of nerve gas on nearby Kadena Air Base — but nobody could have foreseen the scale of the violence that would erupt that night.

Over 3,000 local residents flooded the streets of Koza, dragging American drivers from their cars, beating them, then burning their vehicles.