On Aug. 8, Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga passed away. Over the last two years, I communicated with him several times at such occasions as a celebration event for World Uchinanchu Day (Uchinanchu means an Okinawan person) and the Okinawa Peace Prize Award ceremony, among others.

I respected his strong commitment toward eternal world peace.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Okinawa is located on Maeda Hill in the city of Urasoe, the site of a hard-fought battle during World War II. Some readers might know the place through the 2016 movie “Hacksaw Ridge.” The battle of Okinawa was over on June 23, 1945. More than 200,000 people died, and half of the dead were civilians. The names of all of victims of both sides — soldiers and civilians — are written on more than a hundred stone monuments in Peace Memorial Park on Mabuni Hill in the city of Itoman. It’s a place for praying for world peace.

JICA Okinawa, established in 1985, is tasked with helping to build peaceful societies in the global community through human resource development in cooperation with Okinawa. Onaga, acknowledging JICA Okinawa’s values, asked me to extend further cooperation toward developing areas and countries by utilizing Okinawan soft power.

Onaga appreciated that former JICA Okinawa participants, numbering more than 12,000, are out there in the world, actively committed to helping their own countries to develop. Almost all of them certainly were inspired by Okinawan soft power.

Nowadays, the number of tourists visiting Okinawa has surpassed that of Hawaii. I hope they also touch upon Okinawan soft power during their stay. It would be a fitting tribute to Onaga’s wishes for world peace.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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