National

Crowdfunding drive in Japan to help rebuild Okinawa's Shuri Castle raises over ¥250 million

Staff Report

A total of more than ¥250 million has been donated by more than 18,000 people to a crowdfunding campaign set up by the city of Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, to help rebuild Shuri Castle after it was destroyed by fire last week.

The campaign, set up Friday by the Naha Municipal Government, received more than ¥100 million in donations in its first two days alone, Naha Mayor Mikiko Shiroma said in a statement Sunday, meeting its initial fundraising goal.

“I am deeply moved by the feelings of people, sent from both within and outside of the prefecture, and I want to express my deep gratitude,” Shiroma said.

She said that although the initial target had been met, the city will continue accepting donations through the campaign since rebuilding the castle will cost a huge amount of money.

Large parts of the castle, which is an important symbol for many people in Okinawa Prefecture and a popular tourist attraction, were destroyed in a fire Thursday morning. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blaze. Investigators said police do not believe the fire was caused by arson.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Friday that the central government “will do whatever is necessary for rebuilding, including providing financial support.”

The castle was rebuilt before, under a government project, after it was destroyed in fighting with U.S. forces in World War II in 1945. Underground ruins of the original castle were registered as a part of Japan’s 11th UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. The registration did not formally include the restored buildings. Thursday’s fire destroyed the restored Seiden main hall, Hokuden north hall and Nanden south hall just days after a festival re-creating scenes from ancient rituals opened at the castle the previous Sunday.

Information from Kyodo added

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