What Was the Battle of Okinawa?

The Battle of Okinawa lasted 82 days from April 1 to June 22, 1945. ​
The Battle of Okinawa lasted 82 days from April 1 to June 22, 1945. ​

The Battle of Okinawa, also well-known as Operation Iceberg, was one of the deadliest battles of the Pacific War. The war took place on the island of Okinawa. It was a battle of the United States Army and Marine forces against the Japanese Army. The Battle of Okinawa occurred in 1945 during the World War II. It lasted 82 days from April 1 to June 22, 1945.

Where Is Okinawa?

Okinawa is a prefecture of Japan. Its location is at the southwestern tip of the Japanese archipelago. Okinawa is part of the Ryukyu island chain. It surrounds the Pacific Ocean on the west and the East China Sea to the east. Okinawa is approximately 113 kilometers long and 11 kilometers wide. It covers an area of about 1,200 square kilometers. Major Asian cities such as Shanghai, Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong as well as Tokyo are all positioned within a 1,500 kilometer radius of Naha. Naha is the seat of government of the Okinawa Island.

Operation Iceberg

The US and its Allied forces sought to capture Okinawa Island to set up a base for air operations in preparation for the long-awaited invasion of Japan. The attack by the US was part of an elaborate plan to invade and occupy the Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa Islands. Before the battle, the Japanese had controlled most of the Pacific. However, as the Americans began to occupy the islands on the Pacific, the Japanese were pushed back to their “home territory” which was the Ryukyu Islands. As a result, the American army targeted the island.

The Battle of Okinawa

For most of the battles fought by the Japanese, they engaged their enemies at the beach. But this was not the case for the Battle of Okinawa. The Japanese hid in pillboxes, caves, and jungles. Furthermore, they engaged in deadly attacks at sea known as the “kamikaze attacks.” The attacks involved loading their planes with high explosives then the pilots would crash them onto their enemies’ ships. The Japanese fought to death; they refused to surrender.

America and its allies had 300 warships and 1,139 other ships. They first landed on the island on April 1, 1945, and by April 20th the Japanese resistance on the north had been eradicated. The heat of the war was in the south where the Americans could not penetrate the Japanese Machinato line. However, on April 24th the Americans got a breakthrough in as much as they still had to contend with the Japanese Shuri Line. On July 2nd, it was apparent that America had won the war.

Casualties and Aftermath

Another name used to refer to the Battle of Okinawa was the “typhoon of steel.” The name was a description of the ferocity of the battle. The war was to serve as an example of how deadly the invasion of mainland Japan would be. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. The Americans and their allies sustained 49,151 casualties out of which 12,520 were killed. On the other hand, the Japanese casualties were 171,472 with 110,071 killed. The casualties were not spared as there were 142,058 civilian casualties. The war also opened up northeast Asia and Korea to American influence. The battle of Okinawa was significant in ending the Japanese Empire.


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