Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1935 after it had
virtually annexed the Islands into the Empire.
By 1936 a thriving fishing industry had developed as well as a
sugar industry which occupied 68 percent of the arable land on
Saipan, 80 percent on Tinian and 33 percent on Rota.
The resident population grew to 23,800 on Saipan (of which only
3,222 were originally from the islands); 1,530 on Tinian (25
Chamorros) and 5,600 on Rota (791 Chamorros).
By the time the dark clouds of war had gathered over the western
Pacific, some 29,692 Japanese military personnel were garrisoned
The islands were assaulted by American forces on June 15, 1944
and one of the most hotly contested battles of the entire war was
fought on its sandy beaches and mountainous terrain. American
forces gained control of the island on July 1944 and the construction
of bases and airfields began.
It was from such airfield on Tinian that the first nuclear weapon was
dropped on Hiroshima by the B -29 aircraft Enola Gay hastening the
end of hostilities. The airfields on Tinian which in 1945 were the
busiest in the world are now largely abandoned.