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Nearly a half century after its return to Japan in 1972, Okinawa Prefecture still lags behind the rest of the country in terms of income, welfare and other areas while seeing substantial progress in infrastructure development.

The southernmost prefecture, the site of grueling ground battles in the closing days of World War II, was occupied by the United States from 1945 to 1972. It will mark the 50th anniversary of its return to Japan on May 15 this year.

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