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Until 1830, the Ogasawara Islands were uninhabited and thus called Muninjima (meaning "uninhabited island"). This Japanese name was transliterated or transformed into the more widely known English name—the Bonin Islands.
These Bonin Islands (the Ogasawara archipelago) are composed of the three island groups:
Hahajima, Chichijima and Mukojima
These main island clusters are encompassed within the Tokyo prefectural administrative area known as the Ogasawara Subprefecture; but only the islands of the Ogasawara archipelago are traditionally considered to be the Bonin Islands. These geologically older and larger islands are traditionally considered distinct from the administratively-related but geologically newer and smaller island clusters and other isolated outcroppings in this part of the Pacific.
Okinotorishima was added to the subprefecture in 1931.
The current Japanese administrative structure has its historical organizational roots in the post-war occupation of these strategically positioned Pacific islands. In the 23 years that UN Trust Territory was administered by the USAball, the region was known as the Bonin-Volcano Islands. Prior to repatriation in 1968, this military strategic area remained under the control of U.S. military occupation forces.