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Rare color footage shows Okinawa's Shuri Castle under US air raid

This image provided by the citizens group "Toyonokuni Usashijuku" shows at left an area near the main hall of Shuri Castle engulfed in smoke due to the bombing by the U.S. military, in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture. The image was taken from footage apparently captured by the U.S. military on April 18, 1945.

USA, Oita -- A citizens group in this southwestern Japan city has released rare color footage of a U.S. air raid on Shuri Castle in Okinawa Prefecture in the final months of World War II, providing possible hints as to how the castle burned down during the Battle of Okinawa.

    It is believed to be the first time that footage capturing the moment Shuri Castle in the prefectural capital of Naha came under aerial attack has been discovered. The 36-second clip, which is dated April 18, 1945, was unveiled by the civil group "Toyonokuni Usashijuku" on Aug. 2.

    The group, which has collected and preserved resources related to the Pacific War, obtained the footage at the U.S. National Archives in 2014 and 2016, and had since been analyzing the images.

    The footage was shot from a U.S. military aircraft at around 1 p.m. on April 18, 1945, and shows the main hall of Shuri Castle engulfed in smoke.

    There are different theories as to exactly when Shuri Castle burned down during the war, with some experts saying it was in April 1945 and others maintaining it was in May that year. Shinobu Yoshihama, a former professor at Okinawa International University, who is versed in the modern history of Okinawa, commented on the latest finding, "It is precious footage that shows Shuri Castle, whose basement was used by the Japanese military's command, was targeted by the U.S. military."

    (Japanese original by Katsuyuki Miyamoto, Usa Local Bureau, and Keisuke Muneoka, Kyushu News Department)

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