On May 15, 1972, Okinawa became a prefecture of Japan once again. Up until then, for 27 years since World War II — when the islands endured some of the most intense fighting of the entire brutal conflict — Okinawa had been under U.S. military administration, so reversion to Japanese rule should have heralded more peaceful and prosperous times.

But today Okinawa is hurting.

The rate of unemployment is the highest in the nation, and when people can find a job, their salaries are the lowest. Meanwhile, fewer students in Okinawa finish high school than in any other prefecture in the country, and fewer go to university.