Fifty years ago this week, a seemingly minor matter was agreed to by the central government with a local authority that would have significant domestic and international repercussions.

That matter was the “Yara Memorandum (of Understanding),” an agreement between Chobyo Yara, then-chief executive of the government of the Ryukyu Islands, the predecessor to today’s Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG), and the central government represented by Transportation Minister Kyoshiro Niwa and Sadanori Yamanaka, the director general of the Cabinet office and state minister, on the use of an airport with a 3,000-meter runway that was built in Okinawa and opened in May 1979.

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