June prefectural assembly session: Governor Onaga describes the “Soul of Okinawa”
June 25, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
On June 24, at the ongoing regular June session of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, Governor Takeshi Onaga described the soul of Okinawa as “living with pride, honoring the hard work and struggles of our ancestors, and wishing that our children and grandchildren will be able to live in true happiness.” His comment was in response to a question by Shamin-Goken Net Party representative Taiga Teruya. He made his own reflection on the soul of Okinawa, while making reference to reflections made by previous governors.
Governor Onaga stated, “I believe [previous governors] have all spoken candidly about the soul of Uchina (Okinawa) from their own perspective, with deep consideration for the sentiment of the Okinawan people in the historical period in which they lived. I have been very much influenced [by previous governors], and I thought about my own perspective with their views in mind.”
When Governor Onaga went to Hawaii and Washington D.C. during his visit to the United States at the end of May, he received a warm welcome from people of Okinawan descent everywhere he went. He said that he strongly felt their passion for Okinawa and their love for their homeland, and explained that his perspective on the soul of Okinawa included the love that Okinawans all over the world, connected by the same common ancestors, feel for Okinawa.
Previous Okinawan governors have also garnered attention when expressing their own unique view of the soul of Okinawa. Their views were based on the relationship between Okinawa and mainland Japan and the social conditions of the time. Former Governor Junji Nishime’s 1985 depiction of the soul of Okinawa as “a desire to become Japanese while being unable to do so completely” has been remembered over the years and is still widely quoted.
Former Governor Masahide Ota described the soul of Okinawa as “a communal love of peace,” and former Governor Keiichi Inamine described it as “a magnanimity that merges many different things”. Former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima spoke of the soul of Okinawa as a combination of the previous three governors’ ideas.
At a regular press conference on May 15, when asked about the soul of Okinawa in relation to the fact that Okinawa would soon reach 43 years since its reversion to Japan, Governor Onaga said that Okinawans have always felt that even if they try to get closer to mainland Japan, they might always be kept at arm’s length.
(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)
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