NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Toward the end of World War II, the United States was able to launch massive attacks on mainland Japan after seizing Okinawa, dropping around 7,000 tons of bombs, a study of U.S. documents shows.
The findings are based on an analysis of more than 10,000 pages of declassified military documents conducted by Kanto Gakuin University professor Hirofumi Hayashi.
The analysis helps clarify the overall picture of how U.S. forces attacked the mainland from Okinawa, said Masahiko Yamabe, a researcher at the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage, in Koto Ward.
According to the documents, which were found at the U.S. National Archives, more than 65 locations in 13 prefectures in southwestern and western Japan were targeted from Okinawa, with 7,000 tons of bombs dropped in the last three months of the war.
U.S. forces landed on a small group of islands west of Okinawa’s main island in March 1945, starting a fierce three-month ground battle.
The documents show that on May 13 the same year, Marine Corps F4U fighters flew from Okinawa’s Yomitan airfield to bomb a small island to the north. Four days later, two U.S. Army P-47 fighters that took off from Okinawa conducted an attack on Kyushu for the first time.
Before then, the U.S. had also used the Mariana Islands as a base for launching attacks.
The documents analyzed also refer to civilian casualties.
For example, an Army document describing an Aug. 10, 1945, attack states, “1 individual strafing pass on a large group of people numbering approximately 150 to 200 in the main street” in what is now Ebino, Miyazaki Prefecture, which resulted “in killing 15 to 20 people.”
Professor Hayashi, who specializes in contemporary history, said the documents make clear that “U.S. military bombers and fighters carried out attacks on civilians indiscriminately, hitting small communities, areas where people gather as well as trains.”
Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, after the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing an end to World War II.