The battle of Okinawa was the last major land battle fought in the Second World War.
And it was one of the bloodiest, particularly for the people of Okinawa.
It directly preceded the dropping of the atom bombs.
After the war, Okinawa effectively became an American military garrison and was not handed back to the Japanese until the 1970s.
Now the US continues to police half the world from its enormous and controversial bases in Okinawa.
Christopher Gunness travels to Japan's southernmost islands in the final programme of a series on contemporary East Asian history.
He hears from veterans of that battle and from American soldiers today about their presence on Okinawa and from Okinawans themselves who pride themselves on the distinctiveness, but also who have little control over the fate of their islands.