island of Saipan had been developed much as a Japanese homeland island after they
took it over as a mandated territory following WWI. By 1938 Japanese represented
90 percent of the islands population and it became Japan�s primary source of sugar
for consumption at home and later as a war material. As the noose contracted around
the Pacific islands held by Japan, major defenses were set up on Saipan's 46 square
miles of irregular terrain. These defenses ranged from beach head fortifications
on the west side to caves in the northern mountains.
the lowlands were invaded by the American forces, the Japanese retreated to the
north using their light tanks in the delaying actions. Unfortunately, their light
tanks were no match for heavier American tanks, artillery and tank destroyers
and more often than not, the Japanese tanks were quickly immobilized. The rugged
terrain made tank warfare difficult and spotty but it was one of the few places
in the island-hopping campaign where they could be used.
was of such potential value to American forces as a base for launching bombing
raids on the main Japanese islands that the flat southern land was quickly restored
to military use with the result that few war relics were retained. Most relics
are found in the cave areas at the north end of the island where the Last Japanese
Command Post is located.