Okinawa Education Office asks high schools to teach about the reversion of Okinawa

April 23, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 22, to mark the 40th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty, the Okinawa Education Office sent prefectural high schools a written request that students deepen their knowledge of Okinawa around the time of the reversion, and about issues relating to the future of Okinawa. It is unusual for the office to ask schools to implement an education program on a particular theme.

After students requested to that they be taught more about the history of Okinawa, the office sent schools a written directive along these lines last November. This March, the office then provided schools with reference materials covering how the U.S. military forces occupied Okinawa, and issues related to U.S. bases in Okinawa.

A representative of the office explained the reasoning behind the request as follows: “We would like each and every person in Okinawa to become better off and to begin to create a new Okinawa, one that will give us confidence and pride.” The program aims to have students learn about this in courses such as social studies, civics and geography, history and also through special activities, meetings and comprehensive studies. Some high schools plan to hold lecture meetings.

The office has been conducting questionnaire surveys on how schools implement education programs on the anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, and now also intends to carry out questionnaire surveys after schools implement programs on the reversion of Okinawa.

Toshiaki Arashiro, affiliate professor of Okinawa University, who teaches the history of the Ryukyu Islands, said, “High school students have very few opportunities to systematically study the history of Okinawa including the reversion period. Schools need to do something about this, such as making the courses compulsory on an ongoing basis, not just for a set period.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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