NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima views April 28, the day Japan’s sovereignty was restored in 1952, as a day of remembrance and hope, but residents have rallied to demand the central government cancel its anniversary plans for the day, which is sometimes remembered as “the day of insult.”
Referring to the day Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty, Nakaima said Wednesday: “We would like to take it as a day to reaffirm our commitment to opening a future filled with hope.
“It’s a day to remember the overcoming of various hardships (of the postwar era) by the people of Okinawa,” he said.
April 28, however, is regarded in Okinawa as an affront, as the prefecture ended up spending another 20 years under occupation by the United States until its reversion to Japan in 1972.
Nakaima said that April 28, 1952, marks Japan’s return to the international community and pointed out that Okinawa was forced to give up land and human rights under U.S. military rule.
“Okinawa has not forgotten that April 28, 1952, marked the first step toward the ongoing burden of U.S. military bases carried by our people,” the governor said. “People in Okinawa have mixed feelings about the day.”
Meanwhile, around 100 people have been demonstrating in front of the Okinawa Prefectural Government office to oppose the upcoming ceremony.
“It’s been a history of humiliation for us since Okinawa was handed over to the United States in exchange for Japan’s independence,” said Shiko Sakiyama, head of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center.
He described the holding of a ceremony on April 28 as “discrimination against Okinawa.”
Last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Diet committee that the upcoming ceremony would help the public recognize that Japan regained its independence after being occupied for seven years after it surrendered to end World War II on Aug. 15, 1945.