Japan decides to skip sovereignty recovery ceremony this year

Kyodo

Japan has decided not to hold a ceremony this year to commemorate the day the country regained its sovereignty in 1952 after its World War II defeat, a government source said Saturday.

The decision came after last year’s April 28 ceremony, held for the first time, was overshadowed by opposition from Okinawa, which remained under U.S. control for another 20 years.

“We will not hold a ceremony this year because we did so last year,” the source said.

The central government apparently does not want to worsen its relations with Okinawa, where many residents are opposed to an accord between Tokyo and Washington to relocate a U.S. Marine base from the densely populated area of Ginowan to the less crowded coastal area of Henoko in Nago, both in Okinawa Prefecture.

Last year, Okinawa opposed holding the ceremony as April 28 is referred to in the southern island prefecture as a “day of insult” — when the prefecture was cut off from the mainland and forced to remain under U.S. control until its reversion to Japan in 1972.

But the government-sponsored ceremony was held last year at the Parliamentary Museum in Tokyo, attended by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko as well as around 390 lawmakers, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima skipped the ceremony in consideration of local opposition to the event. Deputy Gov. Kurayoshi Takara attended the event in place of Nakaima, joining governors from across the country.

Japan recovered its sovereignty on April 28, 1952, when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect, ending the seven-year occupation by the U.S.-led Allied Forces.