Okinawan House to be constructed in New Caledonia as a center for friendship
June 1, 2011 by Tsuyoshi Arakaki of the Ryukyu Shimpo
The Okinawan Japanese Community Association of New Caledonia, a special collectivity of France located in the South Pacific, and also known as the “island closest to Heaven,” has recently started construction of an “Okinawan House” designed to facilitate learning about the history of migration from Okinawa and the deepening of friendship with the people of Okinawa.
Almost 900 people emigrated to New Caledonia from Okinawa and it is estimated that 1500 people of Okinawan descent now reside there.
The president of the Association, Jean-Pierre Zenkoro, said that they have secured approximately 340 square meters of land, and will complete construction of the building this summer.
Located at a picturesque spot near the mouth of a river in Poindimie City, in the northern part of Grand Terre on the main island of New Caledonia, it will have a restaurant, meeting rooms, exhibition rooms and offices. The Northern State Government of New Caledonia is providing about 3,000,000 yen worth of financial assistance towards the cost of the construction.
The Association was established in Poindimie City and several other places in 2007. Many of its members will visit Okinawa to participate for the first time to attend the 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival in October this year. Fifty people including the governor of the Northern State, who is also the mayor of Poindimie City will visit Okinawa from New Caledonia. Next July, the 120-year Anniversary Festival to commemorate Japanese immigration will also be held in New Caledonia.
The Okinawa-New Caledonia Friendship Association, headed by Takeshi Miki, will send about 30 people to that Festival next year. “Okinawan House is a symbol of friendship. We will use this opportunity to support it and to develop it as a venue for friendship much in the same way as the ‘Naha Shi Hotel,’ which was established and managed by an Okinawan,” he said. In next year’s festival commemorating Japanese immigration, an exhibition will be held at the “Okinawan House” and articles for display will be gifted from Okinawa.
(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey）
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