The islands only became part of Japan when they were annexed in 1879 by the Meiji government, although the Chinese Qing dynasty also claimed sovereignty over the area as a tributary state.
In the post-war period too, the relationship of the Ryukyu Islands to the Japanese mainland has often been troubled, with cultural movements from the island seeking to revive the indigenous Ryukyuan cultures and languages, rather than simply accepting cultural assimilation. In recent years, the presence of the United States Forces Japan and the Japan Self Defense Forces have also been at the root of citizen protests.
As the article below reports, the formation of a new academic research group on Okinawan independence which is heavily critical of what they see as Japan’s continual discrimination of the region, is perhaps the first move towards politicizing Okinawan autonomy. Furthermore, Japanese politician Teruya Kantoku, a member of the Social Democratic Party, fully supports the endeavour.
Netizens were not amused.
From Ameba News:
“Okinawa Would Be Better Off If It Had Independence From Japan,” Says Social Democratic Party Politician Teruya Kantoku
Waves were made when it was reported that “The Ryukyu People’s Independence Research Group” had been established. The group was based on a concept that was revealed by Professor Matsushima Yasukatsu (originally from Ishigaki Island of Ryukoku University and Associate Professor Tomochi Masaki of Okinawa International University at the Peace Studies Association of Japan conference in November 2012. On March 31, 2013, a preparatory committee was was formed, and the group will be inaugurated on May 15, which is “Return the Homeland Day”.
The debate over Ryukuyan independence has existed for some time. In 1979, 100 years since the Meiji government’s abolition of Ryukyu in 1879, the debate developed as a cultural revival movement, but did not turn into a political one, and it was common for the debate over Ryukyu independence to be seen as “pub chat”. However, with the inauguration of the group, independence will become something that is being reviewed academically.
In the media coverage of the group’s inauguration, Teruya Kantoku, a native of Okinawa Prefecture and member of the House of Representatives for the Social Democratic Party, commented in his blog on April 1 that, “If they’d have me, I’d like to join the research group myself”. He also wrote about his own take on the situation: “In modern history since the Meiji period, Okinawa has continually been discriminated against by the government of the time, and even now, when the reality is that the Uchinanchu people [Okinawan word referring to people of Okinawa and descendents] are not treated as citizens of Japan, I seriously think that it would be better for Okinawa if it were to be independent of Japan”.
In its charter, the research group appears to be critical:”From the invasion of Satsuma and the abolition of Ryukyu to the forced deployment of ospreys, ‘there is discrimination of Ryukyu by Japan and the US, and that it is dominated as a colony’”, and “Japanese people have made Ryukyu a victim, so that they can continue to be blessed with ‘the peace and glory of Japan’”. Teruya agreed with these statements, saying, “Yasa, yasa, atatohn” [Okinawan for "That's right, that's right, that's how it is"].
Looking back on political activities since 1995, he wrote: “If Ryukyu was returned under the peace [current] constitution, I believed that we would be released from the illegitimacy and suffering of US military domination, and had faint expectations of ‘Japan the homeland’. These expectations were betrayed, and this irritates me day in, day out. Ultimately, I realised that those (criminals) responsible for discriminating against the Uchinananchu people, and forcing the sacrifice of those people, were the people of the Yamato nation“.
Comments from Ameba News:
If they get independence and then they’re invaded by China, will they become Chinese-Okinawans? Or resist as an Okinawan army? Or, will they ask for military reinforcements from the Japan-US forces?
In order to become independent, you need an army, right? For the Social Democrats, who want disarmament, to talk about independence…don’t make me laugh.
So you’re saying that rather than learn from the “history” of the Tibetan and Uyghur peoples, you’d rather learn how frightening chink hegemony is from your own “experience”.
Good job on the annexation of Okinawa ww Okinawa is definitely a geo-political necessity. I mean, try taking a survey of every citizen of Okinawa Prefecture, idiot left-wing.
Makes sense that a naturalised North Korean would be the Social Democratic Party leader and a representative.
So, Mr. Bigshot, you want it to become Ryukyu province under the umbrella of China? Shitty media, hiding the fact that if the people living in Okinawa didn’t have the US military and the Japan Self-Defense Forces they’d be living troubled lives.
The fact that the party support rate for this is 0.0% says something.
Those citizens of Okinawa Prefecture who say they want independence are probably operatives from the Chinese Communist Party. Or perhaps they’re just people who know jack-shit. The Social Democratic Party philosophy is treason. It’s just sad.
Because of stuff like this the f***king anti-Japan left wing are causing trouble for Okinawans, too.
Haven’t they seen the Tibetan monks who burn themselves to death in protest on the news?
They’re trying to pull Okinawa apart from Japan. If they get dominated by China it’ll be hell.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Okinawa will become like the Uyghur Autonomous Region. There really are guys there who will murder you if you don’t shut your mouth.
Kinda seems like they’ll get independence and then after about ten years they’ll become “Ryukyu Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic”. ( ￣▽￣)
So, they get “independence” but their legitimacy is “?”. First of all, how about having official elections, and listening to the opinions of the citizens there? Nope, because the people kicking up a fuss about “independence” are all foreign residents who don’t have the right to vote anyway.
Playing into the chinks’ hands. If they’re “independent” and the US military and Self Defense forces are no longer there, then it’s going to be like the Philippines all over again. They’ll be occupied by China straight away and become Tibet No. 2. They’ll lose every freedom. They’ll just be like livestock.
These are just the fantasies of people who’ve come from “elsewhere” to make on the situation, and not Okinawan citizens themselves. Why don’t they just go back to where they came from?
Independence, eh～. I guess it’s a difficult one, but it’s not that I don’t get what they’re saying. It’s just that I reckon that after that invasion will be the worry.