SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

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Map of Okinawa

The battle of Okinawa, also known as Operation Iceberg, took place in April-June 1945. It was the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater of World War II. It also resulted in the largest casualties with over 100,000 Japanese casualties and 50,000 casualties for the Allies.

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Kamikaze attack

This small island was close to the Japanese home Islands and considered part of Japan. They fought fiercely to hold it and for the first time the kamikaze were used in great numbers leading to enormous losses of U.S. personnel and material. We could write 500 pages on the battle of Okinawa, but as always, this article is about the psychological operations used on, or mentioning that island. For the first time U.S. forces used psychological warfare in depth and the result was more prisoners than had ever been taken before. This was the first major success of PSYOP against the Japanese and what was learned there was used in all the battles to follow.

The PSYOP Plan

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OWI Leaflet 2113

This leaflet is entitled “The Living.” Imagine the shock when Japanese troops who never surrender are told that this picture depicts 7,519 Japanese who have surrendered on Okinawa. The count will eventually reach over 11,000. It tells the Japanese that instead of a futile death; why not live to build a new Japan.

The first large-scale use of PSYOP in the Pacific was the Okinawa campaign. The Office of War Information (OWI) working with the Navy on Saipan printed more than six million leaflets to be dropped on Japanese troops and Okinawan civilians. The Army PWB in the Southwest Pacific also prepared some leaflets that used Okinawa as a theme. Curiously, other nations used the lesson of Okinawa in their propaganda. The Australians printed a leaflet for use against the Japanese coded J.302. The leaflet is large and there are five photos on the front, including: Allied wounded evacuated by air; American Marines advance; wrecked Japanese planes on the ground; and Allied guns fire day and night. Some of the text is:

Okinawa fell to the Allies on 22 June. On Okinawa, for the first time in the Pacific War, large bodies of Japanese troops recognized the futility of continuing resistance against overwhelming odds. During the last few days of the campaign more than 9,000 officers and men surrendered, and those men are being treated with respect by the Americans…

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Loudspeaker Team

Loudspeaker teams were used in depth. The result was the surrender of 11,409 prisoners of war. The gradual improvement in loudspeaker propaganda is interesting to note. An research study on WWII psychological warfare mentions a case study from the Battle of Okinawa. It contrasted how aggressive surrender demands with threats of flamethrowers merely increased resistance, while a revised loudspeaker broadcast that was more in line with Japanese cultural beliefs worked. According to the report, an American Infantry officer with a loudspeaker team and a Japanese linguist under orders to translate exactly broadcast this message:

Japanese soldiers; come out of hiding and surrender or I'm going to burn you out with my flamethrowers!

In a second case, a more cultural message was broadcast:

Attention! I am the lawful American commander in the area. Attention! I have been ordered, by superiors to end resistance in this area. Attention! I order all Japanese personnel to assemble, in soldierly fashion. Attention! I must end your resistance soon. I have flamethrowers. I would regret the unfortunate consequences of the use of flamethrowers.

According to the case study, most of the Japanese soldiers fought to the death in the first case, while most surrendered after the second approach. In the first message there is a threat. In the second message there is respect, a mention of military law and a formal system of assembly. The Japanese are asked to assemble, not surrender. For those Japanese that knew the war was lost and wanted a way to save face, this second approach seemed to offer an honorable way to survive.

Up until the Okinawa campaign it was believed that Japanese troops could not be convinced to surrender. Fifth Fleet carrier planes dropped some five million leaflets on the island. The psychological warfare teams' immediate objective was to depress Japanese morale so that the enemy soldiers would surrender rather than resist. The long-range goal was more ambitious: to promote the idea that Okinawans were ethnically and culturally different from the home island Japanese. The leaflets told the Japanese soldier why and how should surrender and the Okinawan citizens not to be afraid, for they were not regarded as the enemy.

For the first time, a Combat Propaganda Team of officers, linguists and artists went ashore with the invasion forces to conduct a campaign in coordination with the assault. The team was led by Lieutenant W. B. Stephenson, USNR.

The United States had lost a tremendous number of killed and wounded during the Iwo Jima campaign. It was the carnage from Iwo Jima that indicated the need to find a way to convince the Japanese defenders to surrender. Prior to Iwo Jima it was believed that the Japanese would never surrender and must be killed to the last man. Psychological Operations was believed to be the answer to this problem. It would convince the Japanese to surrender and save American lives. Okinawa would be the proving ground.

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General Simon Bolivar Buckner

Months prior to the attack, General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Commander of the U.S. Tenth Army, requested that two series of leaflets be prepared for the “Operation Iceberg” Okinawa campaign. One should discourage civilians from obstructing the advance of U.S. troops; the second should weaken the resistance of the Japanese military.

The propaganda section contacted the commanders of all important organizations prior to the invasion to explain what they needed and what they could accomplish. They devoted over three months to this selling and planning phase. Combat commanders want to hear about bombs and shells, not paper. They are hard to convince that using men and supplies to drop propaganda serves any purpose. Leaflet drop demonstrations were held near Tenth Army Headquarters in Hawaii and they were publicized widely to get as many commanders and men enthused about the project.

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Navy PV-1 "Polly"

Knowing that American soldiers loved souvenirs, the propaganda section distributed sample leaflets to all the attendees to keep. They asked and received the operation order for the invasion and found that they would start dropping leaflets seven days before the invasion, and then switch to “phase two” on D-Day+10. They were issued 1,300 105mm propaganda shells and told that they would have one Navy PV-1 “Polly” plane equipped with loudspeakers. They were issued 100 empty propaganda bombs and 800,000 “safe conduct” leaflets to be used in the final phase of the propaganda campaign. By the start of the invasion this number was raised to 555 propaganda bombs loaded aboard 13 escort aircraft carriers (CVEs). Seventy-five percent of the leaflet drops were planned for the towns of Shuri, Naha, Yonabaru, and points south. In central Okinawa the principal targets were Yontan, Kadena, and Machinato airfields.

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Japanese Commander General Mitsuru Ushijima

We should mention that Buckner was not afraid of new concepts and imaginative ideas. No Japanese commander had ever surrendered his forces in the field but Buckner had his propaganda team prepare and drop a leaflet on 10 June 1945 that requested the Japanese commander surrender. The plan was not successful but it showed that Buckner was open to suggestions on the value of propaganda.

95% of all the leaflets were printed aboard the ships of the invasion fleet; the other 5% were printed onshore by the topographic reproduction units of the 24th Corps and third Amphibious Corps. They were hand-written by a Nisei (Japanese-Americans), then produced in lots of about 50,000, bundled and sent to be dropped by tactical aircraft flying from the newly captured Kadena AFB. The first hand-written tactical leaflet to Okinawan civilians said in part:

Those of you who wish to enter the American occupied area may do so during day in safety. Do not enter the American occupied area or loiter near it at night because we fear that you will be mistaken for a Japanese soldier.

A week later a second tactical leaflet was written that said in part:

If you move along with the Japanese forces, or if you aid the Japanese forces, you will receive the same treatment as the Japanese forces.

Eight leaflets were prepared in all. The final one said in part:

Come out of your caves and other hiding places at once. All of you. Come in groups, bringing with you only those possessions which you can readily carry.

The Americans were worried about not being able to tell the Japanese military from Okinawan civilians. In an attempt to solve this problem one leaflet was prepared that warned the civilians against wearing Japanese military clothing for warmth because the Americans could mistakenly shoot them.

Author Roy Appleman adds in Okinawa: the last Battle, US Military History of WW II, 2012:

The American plan called for an extensive effort to weaken the enemy’s will to resist. Intelligence agencies prepared 5,700,000 leaflets to be dropped over Okinawa from carrier planes. More millions of leaflets were to be printed at the target and be scattered over specific areas by bombs and shells. Tanks with amplifiers, an airplane with an ultra-loud speaker, and remotely controlled radios dropped behind enemy lines would also tell the enemy why and how he should surrender...From 25 March until the end of organized fighting, planes dropped about 8,000,000 propaganda leaflets on the island.

Nine themes were designed for the Okinawa campaign:

1. Cite lies of Japanese leaders.
2. Create dissension and friction.
3. Play up American industrial might.
4. Create a feeling of panic and terror.
5. Appeal to physical needs.
6. Show the futility of self-destruction.
7. Appeal indirectly for surrender.
8. Appeal to authority and respect for law.
9. Appeal to non-Japanese combatants.

Certain subjects were “taboo.” Just before embarkation a final meeting with the Combat Team was called to discuss policy. They would be no “horror” leaflets (scenes of horribly mangled or disfigured dead or wounded Japanese soldiers) and no leaflets would make grandiose promises that could not be fulfilled. They would not speak ill of the Emperor or attack Japanese legends like Admiral Togo or General Nogi. They would not attack the Japanese Constitution, customs, habits, religions, or the status of women.

The Japanese did retaliate with propaganda leaflets, but without air superiority, their attempts were feeble. After the death of President Roosevelt on 12 April 1945, The Japanese prepared leaflets for the U.S. forces which claimed that Roosevelt had died due to the strain of the high losses on Okinawa. The leaflets said that the losses would be higher still:

The dreadful loss that led your late leader to death will make you orphans on the island. The Japanese special attack corps will sink your vessels to the last destroyer. You will witness it in the near future.

The Leaflets

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OWI Leaflet 1055

Okinawan natives had been told by the Japanese that the Americans were barbarians who would kill them. This leaflet shows that the natives were lied to. An American soldier walks with three small Okinawan children. The text is:

Little loved ones cared for by Americans await their father’s return.

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Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

The Office of War Information, working in conjunction with the U.S. Navy dropped over 200 different leaflets on Japanese troops. In general, these leaflets and the text was designed and written in San Francisco. They were then radio-telegraphed to Honolulu, Hawaii where the leaflets were fine-tuned, and finally sent to the advanced naval base on Saipan from where they were printed and placed in American aircraft to be dropped over the enemy. The Saipan leaflets were all coded with a simple number that could be anything from 1 to 5000. Some leaflets were prepared at Admiral Nimitz’s headquarters on Guam and these leaflet had no code number.

Nimitz had authorized a small psychological warfare (PW) section in his headquarters in early June, 1944. Allison B. Gilmore mentions the section in: You can’t fight Tanks with Bayonets, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1998:

OWI did not establish a presence in Nimitz’s command until March 1944, when it opened an overseas branch in Honolulu and began full scale propaganda activities. From Hawaii OWI worked under the jurisdiction of the Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific Ocean Areas (JICPOA), operating jointly with Nimitz’s Psychological Warfare Section, created by June 1944.

Just days before the end of the war Nimitz decided to upgrade his own section into a branch. The military PW section worked hand-in-hand with the civilian Office of War Information (OWI) unit headquartered in Honolulu and later with a forward base on Saipan. The Navy PW section started with just five officers and two enlisted men. When it was decided to concentrate on PSYOP during the invasion of Okinawa, six more officers were added to the section. The PW section continued to expand and had combat propaganda teams at Okinawa, Peleliu and Majuro. It moved with Admiral Nimitz to his headquarters in Guam, What is most interesting is that although it was a Navy section, it consisted of members from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.

There is no way to say how many different leaflets were dropped on Okinawa, perhaps a majority of all of the OWI leaflets to Japan during the battle, but in this article we will depict some of the leaflets that actually mention Okinawa and show some that have the nine themes for PSYOP against Okinawa mentioned above. We have found one reference to Okinawa propaganda in a previously classified OWI-Naval report called The Leaflet Newsletter - Area III - Far East, dated 20 April 1945 citing a report from the OWI in Honolulu. It says:

Over Okinawa we dropped leaflets 523 to 534 inclusive, 811 and 8028…The majority of these leaflets were dual purpose, including a message to Japanese troops and another to civilians.

Looking through my files I see that the leaflets mentioned ber the titles:

523, 525, 527, 528, 529, 531 – To military men.
524 – American troops and supplies.
526 – Instructions to Island Inhabitants.
530 – To soldiers.
532 – Recently Rear Admiral Walter Hennecke. (Germans surrender)
533 – Important!
811 – The bearer has ceased resistance. (Safe Conduct Pass)
8028 – Japanese on Saipan received good care from American troops. (For civilians)

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OWI Leaflet 2028

We add leaflet 2028 to show one from the above OWI list of leaflets dropped on Okinawa. It depicts photographs of Japanese women preparing cakes, a group of Japanese sitting waiting for medical treatment, a group of Japanese under American care, and Japanese obtaining water. The text is:

Japanese on Saipan receive good care from American troops

When American troops landed on Saipan, there were about 25,000 Japanese civilians on the island. A few of them committed suicide because they had been told that they would be mistreated. The others came into the American camp and are being well cared for as these pictures show. Men, women and children are receiving food. They receive medical care if they are sick. Those who wish to do so are working and are paid for it.

Many of the low number Saipan leaflets mentioned Okinawa in an attempt to destroy Japanese moral. Leaflets bearing the numbers 100 to 399 were prepared for the period of bombardment of an entire tactical area, preliminary to any further action to be taken in that area. It was believed that the Japanese had no knowledge of the war situation so many leaflets mentioned that Okinawa had fallen as a way of showing the enemy that they were losing the war. I will mention three examples; there are about a half-dozen in all.

Leaflet 116 depicts sinking Japanese ships and was designed to lower moral and develop a realization of the helplessness of Japan’s position. One line is:

The Americans occupy Saipan, the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa has already fallen into American hands.

Leaflet 121 depicts an American officer eating with Japanese prisoners and was designed to refute Japanese propaganda concerning American brutality. One line is:

The Japanese soldiers and civilians who came to an understanding with the Americans on Attu, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa are receiving very kind treatment…

Leaflet 123 depicts an American soldier carrying an injured Okinawan woman and is designed to destroy the Japanese belief in inevitable victory. Some of the text is:

This is the way in which the Americans are kind. Women and children are aided by American forces on Okinawa.

Barak Kushner refutes the relative value of some of the OWI leaflets to Okinawa in The Thought War – Japanese Imperial Propaganda, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2006:

As the battle for Okinawa surged in April 1945, the OWI and the American armed forces began to assess their most comprehensive campaign launched to date. Out of a garrison of approximately 120,000 Japanese troops, 11,000 POWs were taken, but only 7,400 were Japanese soldiers. The others were Korean or Taiwanese laborers. While it was a partial success compared with efforts elsewhere, the approximately 50,000 German POWs a month who flooded into U.S. camps from August 1944 until the spring of 1945 dwarfed Japanese surrender statistics.

But then he adds:

One reason behind the small numbers of Japanese soldiers captured by U.S. forces may have been the fact that U.S. soldiers slaughtered wounded or surrendering Japanese soldiers.

The Leaflet Themes

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OWI Leaflet 2079

This leaflet shows Naha City, the capital city of Okinawa, before and after an American bombing. I show the leaflet horizontal because I think it is easier to see the damage. This leaflet warned the Japanese of the total destruction of their industry and advised them to save the country and stop their resistance.

This is just a brief look at the concepts behind the propaganda leaflets dropped on the Island of Okinawa. We will now depict nine leaflets that match the themes mention above as part of the PSYOP plan.

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OWI Leaflet 2023

Cite the lies of Japanese leaders. There are numerous leaflets on this theme. The Japanese lied all the time claiming victory after victory. For instance, leaflet 702 is one of dozens that tell the Japanese that the Americans are kind and charitable, and the Japanese stories about their cruelty were just false propaganda. Leaflet 2001 tells the readers that Japanese radio announcers lie and are forced to broadcast the information that the Military demands. We depict leaflet 2023 that shows American naval aircraft about to attack the Japanese troops and reminds them:

Those planes are from American carriers your leaders told you were sunk off Taiwan. Now our bombs tell you that not one carrier was sunk off Taiwan.

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OWI Leaflet 2063

Create dissension and friction. American propaganda tried to create dissension by telling the Japanese troops that their officers received special privileges; and the Japanese civilians that the Gumbatsu (what President Eisenhower called the Military-Industrial Complex) had started an illegal war and was making money while Japanese soldiers were killed on the battlefield. This leaflet depicts St. Luke’s Hospital in Tokyo that was a gift from America to Japan. It reminds the people who the real war criminals are:

We did not start this war. As you know, this war was started by the attack on Pearl Harbor without warning and without the approval of the Emperor…Instead of fearing us, you should fear the military clique who have betrayed the Emperor….

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OWI Leaflet 1005

Play up American industrial might. There are well over a dozen leaflets on this theme showing Japan surrounded by the US Navy, covered with Air Force bombers and telling the Japanese soldiers that the USA can out-produce Japan and can make ships and planes faster than the Japanese can destroy them. It was hard to pick one leaflet for this theme. 808 threatens them with: Don’t you know that resistance against our overwhelming strength is futile? Do you enjoy being pounded and shelled to bits? I picked 1005 to place here. I don’t care for the image, just a vast fleet of American ships and planes over Japan, but I do like the text:

Since 8 December 1941, the United States has built more than 33,000,000 tons of shipping…

Since 8 December 1941, the United States has built more than 171,000 planes. Modern wars are won not be spirit but by overwhelming industrial production.

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OWI Leaflet 2046

Create a feeling of panic and terror. There were dozens of leaflets that fit this criteria, bombs exploding, fires, dead soldiers, destroyed families and Japanese wives forced into prostitution by starvation, etc. I have tried to find the leaflet that best expresses this terror.

Leaflet 2046 is from a series of leaflets that showed the horror of American bombing. The text is meant to describe the bomber, its range, bomb-load and fire-power together with indication of the havoc its bombs can create. It explains that nothing can save the Japanese people from American bombs:

These American bombers above your heads are very advanced and powerful. Even engineers could not have dreamed of these powerful planes just five years ago. These bombers are twenty times bigger than yours, and its armor is so thick and bullets would not penetrate, unless the bullets hit its crucial areas, which is less than one third of total surface of its body. Not only are these bombers able to fly at a much higher altitude than your latest fighter planes, but they also can carry a full load of bombs as far as two thousand miles away.

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OWI Leaflet 1006

Appeal to physical needs. The Japanese of course had many physical needs. They were starving, wet, dirty, lacked medical care, and could see death coming straight at them. The Americans would usually promise safety in a POW camp, clean clothing, food, medical care and surprisingly, cigarettes. Picking a leaflet that best met these criteria was difficult. I suspect that starvation was a major physical need so I selected this leaflet that depicts a wonderful plate of Japanese delicacies. Just what was needed to tempt a soldier living on roots, grass and insects:

Your island has been isolated and cut off from all aid and supplies. You have almost no food and are slowly starving to death. You are as human as we are and the thought of your hunger is far from pleasant. if you are hungry and wish to have good food, indicate that fact by displaying a large visible cross along the southeast intersection of the airfield runway. We will then be able to help you.

By the way, this leaflet proves that you need to know your enemy. I believe the plate is very tempting to the average Japanese soldier. The Japanese dropped a similar leaflet on US soldiers also showing a salad. How wrong they were. They should have depicted a hamburger on a steak. I am sure that leaflet was a failure.

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We will give you water and food

I thought the reader might be interested in this OWI attempt to teach American soldiers some Japanese language so that they might get the Japanese to surrender without the aid of a PSYOP soldier and translator.

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OWI Leaflet 701

Show the futility of self-destruction. The U.S. Army looked at this a little differently than the Navy. Their leaflets on the Philippines discussed hari-kari and why the Japanese soldier should resist. The Navy leaflets seem to be more on the subject of why fight on until the death for the militarists and industrialists who wanted this unjust war. Two Japanese captives are depicted playing Chinese checkers. Their faces are partially blocked for their protection.This leaflet is one of the very few Navy products that mentions seppuku (ritual suicide) so it seems a good choice for this theme:

If you commit seppuku – you will be the last of your family. You won’t be able to carry on your line. No good to you, to your family, or to Japan will come from such an act. When the war is over, you won’t be alive to enjoy peace and happiness.

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OWI Leaflet 811

Appeal indirectly for surrender. There was no shortage of surrender leaflets. In fact, almost every leaflet had a surrender message somewhere in the text, often the last line at the bottom. Looking through the OWI leaflets I found four that were almost completely about surrender. I picked leaflet 811 because it is entirely about surrender, and in fact looks like it was copied from early Australian leaflets to the Japanese which were quite similar. The same message appears on the front in back in English and Japanese.

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OWI Leaflet 2118

Appeal to authority and respect for law. This was a tough theme. There were dozens of such leaflets to the Philippines telling the people to obey the laws and not to commit crimes or use the black market. I did not find any such leaflets among the OWI products. I assume those leaflets on Okinawa were mostly tactical and printed in the field so we do not have them at a strategic level. This leaflet actually informs the Japanese soldiers that the war is over and orders them to follow the Emperor’s decree. Some of the text is:

To the large number of loyal and brave officers and men of the Imperial forces, who have died in battle and from sickness, goes our deepest grief. At the same time we believe the loyalty and achievement of you officers and men of the Imperial forces will comply with our intention and will maintain solid unity and strict discipline in your movement, and that you will bear the hardest of all difficulties and bear the unbearable and leave the everlasting foundation of the nation.

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OWI Leaflet 534

Appeal to non-Japanese combatants. I had a few leaflets to choose from in this category but I really like this one. We see American troops advancing and one man using a flame-thrower. The text is an appeal to civilians and humanitarian in nature. Some of the text is:

American forces have landed elsewhere on your island and are making excellent progress. Most of the civilians who stayed in the path of the on-rushing army were killed because of their own foolishness. Unless you are prepared to suffer a similar fate, stay away from the beaches. Shells and bombs cannot tell the difference between civilians and soldiers…

The Newspapers

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OWI Leaflet 2516 – Newspaper Marianas Jiho

The United States always printed propaganda newspapers for the enemy because it was aware that they had no knowledge of the current state of the war. One million copies of the Japanese-language newspaper the Marianas Jiho (Marianas News Review) was printed each week. Other papers were the Hawaiian Weekly News, Makoto (Truth), Rakkasan News (Parachute News) and the Ryukyu Shuho (Okinawa Weekly). Newspapers were printed in other languages to include the Korean-language Chosen Weekly News and Chosen Liberty Weekly, and the Chinese language World’s Weekly News.

The above copy of the Marianas Weekly tells the Japanese troops about victories of the Australians, good treatment of Japanese prisoners and civilians, and how Saipan is becoming a stable place with law and order and food once again. There are several pictures, but the one of importance to this article is the American soldier treating an Okinawan boy to a can of milk.

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The Hawaii Weekly News – No. 2505

The Americans believed that the Japanese did not believe their own newspapers, so the OWI printed this one to tell them the truth about the war. This issue of the newspaper tells of the American pounding of the Okinawan shoreline and actually depicts a map of the island at the bottom right. Issue 2507 tells the Japanese that the Americans have occupied Taugen Island in the Ryukyus chain and brags that the United States is now delivering air mail to the troops fighting on Okinawa.

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Korean Language Newspaper Chosen Weekly News – No. 4517

There were many Koreans among the Japanese military and civilian workforce on Okinawa. Newspapers were dropped to them describing the Allied advances. The Japanese had discouraged the use of the Korean language so this newspaper showed America’s backing of Korea’s desire for independence. Each newspaper was a single sheet and usually contained several photographs or cartoons.

OWI Newspaper 4515 Mentions that the Americans have captured Naha air field and depicts American tanks entering the air base. Newspaper 4517 Mentions American General Bruckner killed on Okinawa, Japanese Admiral Minoru Ota found dead in a cave, and American Admiral Nimitz’s declaration that Okinawa has been taken. 4518 says that Okinawa is about to become a great American war base and reports that thousands of Japanese have surrendered.

Sometimes the leaflets and newspapers could be a problem. Naval pilot Garland E. “Buddy” Bell flew a scout plane off the cruiser USS Tuscaloosa said:

My most vivid memory occurred during a spotting mission over Okinawa when I flew into thousands of falling propaganda leaflets dropped by one of our planes. The airplane appeared to be running into a snow storm. Hundreds of the leaflets caught on the wings and the cockpit canopy. Cracking the canopy, I was able to grab one before they all blew off. The leaflet was the “Ryukyu Shuho” or Okinawa Weekly.

U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Branch Leaflets

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Leaflet 128-J-1

Okinawa was in Nimitz’s Navy area, not MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific area. Even so, some of the Army leaflets used in the Philippine Islands depict scenes from Okinawa. The 1st U. S. Army leaflet above depicts and American soldier with an Okinawan child. The text is:

A little Okinawan girl has made friends with a soldier.

Saying “Give me candy” and “Let’s play,” she has flustered her big American friend.

Isn’t this a pleasant scene?

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Leaflet 138-J-1

Another leaflet depicts three photographs of Americans with Okinawan civilians and the text:

On Okinawa, once a grim battlefield, the storm has passed and peace is returning…

Under the friendly protection of Americans, reconstruction is going on. The present conditions in Okinawa clearly refutes the propaganda of the militarists.

The statement of U.S. President Truman that unconditional surrender does not mean enslavement or extermination is fully borne out by the situation on Okinawa.

The Japanese never seem to have taken the American leaflets seriously. At the end of the battle American interrogators questioned the Japanese about the effectiveness of the leaflets. The Japanese stated:

Three kinds of leaflets were received by Okinawans prior to the invasion. They were:

Those dropped to military personnel asking for surrender; those telling the civilians to take to the hills until further word from the American commander; and those telling of the good treatment accorded Japanese civilians on Saipan.

Nobody believed the American leaflets when they were first dropped. After the Americans landed, however, the Okinawans realized that what the leaflets said as to treatment was true.


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The author in a C-47 off on a mission

This story means a lot to me because my first overseas tour when I was a member of the Air Force was on Okinawa back in the early 1950s. The people were kind and generous, but the country had not been rebuilt and many of the roads were still dirt. I used to dive for lobster off Naha Air Base and the ocean floor was stained red from the rust of hundreds of thousands of naval artillery shells fired at the island. There were many areas marked “off limits” and barbed-wired because they were caves that still held Japanese bodies and were possibly mined. Many of the troops searched these caves for souvenirs and a skull was a favorite find, brought back to the barracks and placed on a table with a ball cap and pipe. It was a Hell of a place for a teenager.

This is a very short look at the kind of psychological Warfare the United States used on Okinawa. I have tried to keep the story down to the bare bones. Readers who have comments are encouraged to write to the author at