In 2022, Okinawans found little to celebrate in marking the fiftieth anniversary of reversion from American to Japanese control in 1972. There is widespread disappointment because of festering grievances, as Okinawa continues to bear a disproportionate base-hosting burden, employment opportunities remain limited and it is Japan’s poorest prefecture. The U.S. military presence in Okinawa has lasted nearly eighty years, an encroachment that remains the unfinished business of the Second World War and a constant reminder to Okinawans of their shared nightmare in 1945, when up to one third of the population died during the U.S. invasion. Commemoration of Okinawa’s wartime trauma contests Japan’s collective amnesia about this reckless squandering of life and Tokyo’s contemporary strategy of outsourcing the burdens of deterrence to the prefecture. Contemporary pacifism and anti-base sentiments draw on local anxieties about rising tensions with China and perceptions that American bases are targets rather than shields.