When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that his government plans to hold a state-hosted ceremony for the first time next month to commemorate the 1952 restoration of Japan’s sovereignty and the end of the Allied Occupation, he probably believed it would be a glorious day to remember.
But he was apparently ignorant of the fact that the people of Okinawa regard April 28 as “the day of infamy” because the prefecture continued on for another 20 years under U.S. control. His plan was quick to raise local ire.
On Friday, the Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo, the largest papers in the prefecture, both carried articles on their websites criticizing Abe for celebrating the day despite Okinawa’s postwar hardship under U.S. occupation.
Although the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which took effect on April 28, 1952, officially ended World War II, Okinawa was separated from the mainland and the U.S. military occupation of the prefecture continued until 1972.
“It is a nice day because (Japan) became independent” again, but “it was a day when Okinawa was deserted (by Japan), too,” Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima was quoted as saying Thursday by the Okinawa Times.
“It’s only natural (the Okinawan people) have various feelings, such as resentment and bitterness,” he told the paper.
During Friday’s Cabinet meeting, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga rushed to tell his colleagues it is important “not to forget Okinawa’s history of hardship” and to keep trying to reduce the prefecture’s U.S. base burden.