Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that the government is planning to commemorate the day when Japan regained its sovereignty from the United States 61 years ago on April 28 by holding a special ceremony. But Okinawans are angry about this since they consider this their “day of humiliation”, when they were abandoned by Japan.
Moriteru Arasaki, a professor emeritus of Okinawa University was a first year high school student on that day when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect. While Japan got its sovereignty back, Okinawa was placed under the control of the United States. Arasaki believes it is an insult to Okinawans for Abe’s government to consider celebrating that day. And he is not alone in that thinking. Choho Zukeran, the former chairman of the Political Local Party of Okinawa believes that his prefecture was used as a pawn to the U.S, in exchange for giving back freedom to the rest of the country. Zukeran participated in protests held every year on April 28 until they finally succeeded in 1972 when the Okinawa prefecture was returned to the Japanese government.
But to this day, residents of the southernmost prefecture of Japan feel deep anger at being “forced” to host the U.S bases and half of its more than 47,000 military personnel. Protests, sometimes led by their political leaders and government officials, have continued against the US military presence, safety issues over the deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft at the Kadena Air Force Base by 2015 and the recent spate of criminal misbehaviour by military personnel. Some have warned Abe’s administration that the continued unrest in the region might someday lead to a move for secession from the central government. If the celebration on April 28 pushes through, this will just be another reason for Okinawans to resent the government.