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By The Real Revo
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On this day in 1944: The Battle of Saipan

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By July 8, US military forces had pushed to the north end of the island of Saipan.

Saipan had been settled by thousands of Japanese citizens since it came under that nation’s control at the end of World War I. Emperor Hirohito was concerned that the defection of Japanese civilians would be dishonorable and a threat to the war effort. The Japanese people of Saipan were of low caste and there was a risk that live civilians would benefit from generous US treatment. Japanese sympathizers would be a powerful propaganda coup for the United States if they were used to broadcast radio messages into Japan.

At the end of June, Hirohito sent out an imperial order encouraging the civilians of Saipan to commit suicide. The order authorized the commander of Saipan to promise civilians who died there an equal spiritual status in the afterlife with those of soldiers perishing in combat.

More than 1,000 Japanese civilians committed suicide in the last days of the battle to take the offered privileged place in the afterlife, some jumping from “Suicide Cliff” and “Banzai Cliff”.

These are photos I took in 2006.

This is Marpi Point, Banzai Cliff, where the water was so thick with bodies they fouled the props of the American patrol boats attempting rescues.

Banzai Cliff from the East.

Monuments and memorials to the civilians who died at Banzai Cliff.

Japanese tourists pay their respects atop the cliff.

Suicide Cliff is about a half a mile south of Banzai Cliff. Its base is dry land.

Japanese students explore a destroyed command bunker at the base of Suicide Cliff.

Prayer offerings at the base of Suicide Cliff.

A Japanese tourist communes with the spirits atop Suicide Cliff.



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