In the aftermath of the Battle of Okinawa, the American military turned its efforts toward fortifying its new strategic outpost in the Pacific. Okinawan survivors were left to rebuild their lives in the ruins of their farms and villages. The dead were buried deeply and quickly. Decades later, an urban development project unearthed the unremembered and perhaps unwanted remains of a legion of Imperial Japanese soldiers. This essay explores the collaboration between the photographer Higa Toyomitsu and the material remains of the dead as they come together in a creative effort to make sense of the sacrifices that a nation demands of its subjects.

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