The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared Tuesday that a ceremony will be held on April 28 to commemorate the day Japan recovered its sovereignty under the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952, with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in attendance.
However, the day is sometimes referred to as “the day of insult” in Okinawa, as the prefecture spent another 20 years under U.S. occupation until its reversion to Japan in 1972.
“We cannot forget the history of hardships of Okinawa, the Amami Islands, and the Ogasawara Islands, that they were outside Japan’s administration for a certain period of time after the war,” Abe was quoted by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga as saying.
Between Japan’s recovery of sovereignty and the reversion of Okinawa, the Amami Islands were returned in 1953 and the Ogasawara Islands in 1968.
“The ceremony will confirm the significance of Japan’s responsibility in contributing to peace and prosperity to the international community and solidify Japan’s determination to move forward into the future,” Suga told reporters.
The decision, however, provoked discontent from Okinawa, which continues to host more than 70 percent of U.S. military facilities in Japan even though the prefecture accounts for less than 1 percent of the country’s land area.
Seigen Miyazato, an 81-year-old former professor at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, said, “If the day Okinawa was separated from the mainland is going to be celebrated, it means that Okinawa is not Japan. It’s outrageous.”