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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.

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