May 15th

If you follow Japanese Twitter, you may have noticed a few hashtags (like this one #沖縄本土復帰記念日) and tweets leading up to May 15th which marked the 49th year of Okinawa returning to Japan (Okinawa reversion 祖国復帰 and 本土復帰 is also used). NHK Okinawa also hosted a 5-episode special series to commemorate the date. The hashtag noted includes the word anniversary but as Fija Byron tweets, is it really an anniversary if Japan is not the moterland of the Ryukyu people? (Be sure to follow his tweet that includes a link to a blog post he wrote on the subject.)

According to Fija Byron’s blog post, the Ryukyu Kingdom dates from 1187 to 1879 (in 1609 it was invaded by Satsuma and came under its control). It forcibly became a domain and prefecture of Japan from 1879. After the Second World War, Okinawa was occupied by the U.S. government for 27 years (1945 to 1972). May 15, 1972 marks the date that Okinawa was returned to Japan from the U.S. government. Shouldn’t the correct return be the restoration of the Ryukyu Kingdom?

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