At the end of March, I completed my fourth business trip to Okinawa during the 2020 fiscal year. Overall, it was my 130th trip to Okinawa, not including those made during the eight years I lived there.

The 2020 fiscal year essentially overlapped with the same period in which COVID-19 began to have a real economic impact on the country, particularly in the travel industry. That industry includes hotels, airlines, cruise ships, tour guides, restaurants, stores, museums and cultural sites at various tourist destinations. Companies and shops have closed and tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs as a result.

This last trip was taken at the end of the fiscal year. I visited Okinawa once each quarter, more by coincidence than planning. As such, I was able to make comparisons every few months about how the southernmost prefecture was doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.