Attitudes toward Okinawa in Japan, 1945-1947

On September 20, 1947, Hirohito conveyed to MacArthur’s political adviser, William J. Sebald, his position on the future of Okinawa. Acting through Terasaki, his interpreter and frequent liaison with high GHQ officials, the emperor requested that, in view of the worsening confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States, the American military occupation of Okinawa and other islands in the Ryukyu chain continue for ninety-nine years. Hirohito knew MacArthur’s latest views on the status of Okinawa when he made this offer. [MacArthur had been quoted as saying, “The Ryukyus are our natural frontier” and “the Okinawans are not Japanese.”] The emperor’s thinking on Okinawa was also fully in tune with the colonial mentality of Japan’s mainstream conservative political elites, who, like the national in general, had never undergone decolonization. Back in December 1945, the Eighty-ninth Imperial Diet had abolished the voting rights of the people of Okinawa along with those of the former Japanese colonies of Taiwan and Korea. Thus, when the Ninetieth Imperial Diet had met in 1946 to accept the new “peace” constitution, not a single representative of Okinawa was present.

SOURCE: Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, by Herbert P. Bix (HarperCollins, 2000), pp. 626-627

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