Saipan is a beautiful, small island (land area of 44 square miles) in the Northern Marianas with a population of just over 60,000. It was first colonized by Spain, then Germany and Japan. On June 15, 1944 near the end of WWII, the United States Marines landed on the southwest beaches (just near my house) and battled the Japanese defenders.
As the US gained control of the island, Emperor Hirohito became concerned that the Japanese citizens would begin to side with the enemy and lose their “fighting spirit”. In the end of June, he ordered all Japanese citizens on the island to commit suicide and promised them that they would have a high spiritual status in the afterlife.
Over just a few days, 20,000 Japanese killed themselves, many jumping to their deaths from “Suicide Cliff” and “Banzai Cliff”.
We visited many of the important WWII sights today and the pictures are below.