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Ogasawara Islands mark 50th anniversary of return to Japan

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    A tourist enjoyed the sunrise from Chichijima in the Ogasawara Islands.

Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the return of the Ogasawara Islands to Japan, after their occupation by the United States in World War II.

After overcoming the turmoil of war, the islands have developed a distinctive culture. In 2011, the Ogasawara Islands were registered as a natural UNESCO World Heritage site for its rich, diverse ecosystem.

In 1830, settlers mainly from the United States and Europe arrived. Later, the islands officially became part of Japanese territory and the number of residents increased. However, World War II forced most of the islands’ residents — about 7,700 at the time — to evacuate to Japan’s main islands in 1944.

The Ogasawara Islands were returned to Japan in June 1968 and are administered by the Tokyo metropolitan government. The islands have attracted many young people with their scenic ocean setting and the open-minded atmosphere that blends Western and Japanese cultures. Just in the past 10 years, the population has increased by about 10 percent.

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