International Academic Conference in China considers shared historical recognition of the Ryukyu Kingdom
May 16, 2016 Tsuyoshi Arakaki in Beijing
On May 15 at Beijing University in China, the Second Ryukyu Okinawa Frontier Issue International Academic Conference was held for historians from Okinawa and China. The conference examined the history and current issues of Ryukyu/Okinawa. On the first day, attendees presented research on the history of Ryukyu Kingdom such as the annexation of the Ryukyus (“Ryukyu Disposal”) by Japan and trades and tributes with China. It is the second conference of its kind, with the first one being held in 2014.
From Okinawa, three people including Professor Tsuneo Namihira of the University of the Ryukyus participated. From China, 12 people presented research, and there was a presentation by a researcher from Taiwan.
With the title of “Two annexations in Modern East Asian History,” Namihira pointed out commonalities between the annexations of Ryukyu and Korea. He said, “During the reversion to Japan movement, a discourse of shared ancestry between Japanese and Ryukyuan people was diffused as part of political pressure to claim Okinawans as Japanese. This discourse has remained alive without enough reflection.” He pointed out the need to review the history of Ryukyu and Okinawa.
Professor Song Chengyou of Beijing University presented with the title of “Re-recognition of ʻthe Ryukyu Disposal” and said, “ʻDisposalʻ implies an urgency, justifying the invasion, legalizing the illegal, and legitimizing the illegitimate.” He explained that “China was weakened and had no power” when the annexation of Ryukyu became an international issue and China received requests to save the kingdom from the Ryukyuan elites.
Additionally, Shuko Maeda, a researcher from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science presented on “Shuri National Study and Kume Village” and Yosuke Oshiro, a doctorate student at Beijing University, presented on “Save Ryukyu Movement and Ryukyu Policies of Qing Dynasty.”
At the opening ceremony, representatives from both sides committed to continuing and furthering the exchange of research. On May 16, participants discussed the U.S. military base issues and future visions of Okinawa. Participants from Okinawa also included members of a group that has called for the preservation of a Ryukyuan graveyard in Beijing. The group visited the graveyard in the Tongzhou district of Beijing on May 17.
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)
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