From the Okinawan point of view Okinawa was directly in harms way when World War II opened in the Pacific. As the last strong battlement before the Japanese mainland, Okinawa became so to speak the "last stand" for the Japanese Army and Navy. The island and its people also became the pawns and innocent victims of the bloodiest and deadliest battle site of the entire war. Coming at the latter end of WWII the battle of Okinawa started with an American invasion in the Spring of 1944. Three months later after over 200,000 people had died (over 100,000 Okinawans) the last Japanese soldiers surrendered and Okinawa was under US control.
In 1609 the Japanese Shogunate, Satsuma, invaded Okinawa and took it's king prisoner. Japan then levied a tax on the Okinawa people which combined with the tribute to China made life very difficult for a people already living in stressed conditions. This situation continued until 1879, Meiji period, in which Okinawa was annexed and became a prefecture of Japan. Yet despite this change, they still suffered heavy taxation and suppressment of their native culture and language. They became looked down upon by mainland Japanese and found they had little to no say in the determination of their own life and future.