OPG digitizing Ryukyu government documents

OPG digitizing Ryukyu government documents

At the Okinawa Prefectural Archives in Haebaru, the staff works on digitizing the Ryukyu government documents.

April 30, 2014 Yoshiya Hokama of Ryukyu Shimpo

The Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) has been working on a project to digitize the official documents created by the Government of the Ryukyu Islands during the American occupation. The OPG plans to release them on the website of the Okinawa Prefectural Archives.

In order to preserve historically valuable documents, it will start to release some of the documents from next April.

Using state subsidies for software projects, the government plans to continue the work into the 2021 fiscal year.

The archival institution currently preserves about 160,000 of the Ryukyu government documents. Among them, about 130,000 can be digitized. Each of the documents has several dozen to several hundred pages. The total number of pages amounts to more than 10 million.

The OPG assigned 16 million yen under supplemental budgets in fiscal 2013 for the project. It has digitized 2,000 documents.

The government has assigned 67 million yen for the project in fiscal 2014, planning to digitize 11,000 documents from the Ryukyu administration office.

These documents contain the letters exchanged between the Ryukyu government and the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR), documents related to the Agreement between Japan and the United States of America concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands, request documents sent to the Japanese and the U.S. governments, and documents related to the removal of chemical weapons from Okinawa.

In the digitization process, staff take photographs of individual document pages and store them. By automating a part of the digitization, the staff aim to streamline the work and cut costs. They claim that they can store the documents with high image quality.

Takehiko Oshiro of the OPG said, “The Ryukyu government documents are accessible only at the archival institution. With the digitization, I would like many people to access them.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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