Over the 50 years since Okinawa Prefecture’s reversion to Japan from United States control on May 15, 1972, former Gov. Keiichi Inamine has witnessed countless changes to the islands.

Going from the lasting devastation of the Pacific War — where Okinawa was one of the few Japanese territories to experience near-total destruction from ground warfare — to its current role as a tourist destination and logistics hub for Southeast Asia, the island chain 700 kilometers off the southern coast of Kyushu is now, in many ways, almost unrecognizable from how it was at the time of the handover.

Despite economic and infrastructural developments contributing to a brighter and more prosperous future, Inamine identifies the continued presence of U.S. military bases on the islands as a troubling reminder of a darker past.