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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Japan renames island of Iwo Jima
The photograph is considered one of the most famous of WWII

A Japanese island that was the scene of one of the fiercest battles of World War II has been renamed to reflect the wishes of its original inhabitants.

Iwo Jima has now become the island of Iwo To, as it was known before the war.

The battle of Iwo Jima in 1945 saw 100,000 US troops attack 22,000 entrenched Japanese soldiers.

The battle produced one of the most enduring images of the war, showing US troops raising the Stars and Stripes on the island's highest point.


The island was the first Japanese territory attacked directly by ground troops in the war.

Most of the Japanese soldiers died in battle rather than be taken prisoner.


The Americans occupied the island after the war, and returned it to Japan in 1968.

In Japanese, the original name Iwo To is written with the same characters as Iwo Jima and means the same thing - Sulphur Island - but it is pronounced differently.

The civilians who lived there were evacuated in 1944 as US forces advanced across the Pacific.

Some Japanese navy officers who moved in to fortify the island mistakenly called it Iwo Jima, and the name stuck, AP says.

Joe Rosenthal, the Associated Press photographer who took the iconic Stars and Stripes photograph four days after US troops landed on the island, died last year aged 94.

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