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Arts & Culture

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Victory In The Pacific

Photo taken during the invasion of Okinawa. In June 1945, after 82 days of intense fighting, US Army and Marines secured Okinawa. The cost was enormous: 12,000 Americans and 70,000 Japanese and Okinawan conscripts lost their lives in a battle that would be remembered as one of the most terrible in the history of warfare.
NARA
Photo taken during the invasion of Okinawa. In June 1945, after 82 days of intense fighting, US Army and Marines secured Okinawa. The cost was enormous: 12,000 Americans and 70,000 Japanese and Okinawan conscripts lost their lives in a battle that would be remembered as one of the most terrible in the history of warfare.

Airs Monday, March 29, 2010 at 9:30 p.m. on KPBS

“Take no prisoners. Fight to the bitter end.” Those were everyday words to combat troops on both sides at the end of World War II in the Pacific. And they led to an unprecedented orgy of slaughter. In this provocative, thorough examination of the final months of the war, American Experience looks at the escalation of bloodletting from both Japanese and American vantage points.

As the film shows, most of Emperor Hirohito's inner circle was determined to continue the war even after losses in the Philippines in February 1945 cut off Japan's supply lines. And though he was warned that the country, brought to its knees by the conflict, might erupt in a Communist revolution, Hirohito believed that one last decisive battle could reverse Japan's fortunes.

The Americans, for their part, were startled by the intensity and determination of the Japanese defenders in the South Pacific.

From the U.S. capture of the Mariana Islands through the firebombing of Tokyo and the dropping of the atomic bomb, this program chronicles the dreadful and unprecedented loss of life, and the decisions made by leaders on both sides that finally ended the war.

You can watch the entire film online, and explore a timeline.

Preview: American Experience: Victory In The Pacific

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