Okinawa Governor Onaga meets Chinese Premier

April 15, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 14, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga visited China as one of the delegates of the Association for the Promotion of International Trade Japan. Onaga met the Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Li Keqiang, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Referring to the historical links between Okinawa and China, Onaga asked for the promotion of trade in the special economic zones in Fujian and Okinawa and for the opening of a new airline route between Naha and Fuzhou. Premier Li said, “We would like to promote exchanges with all regions of Japan, including Okinawa.”

This is the first time that Li has met a Japanese governor since he took office. Li and the delegates met for about an hour. Apart from the delegate leader Yohei Kono, Onaga is the only delegate who talked to Li for as long as 10 minutes.

Onaga talked about the Ryukyuan cemetery in Fujian and the history of students from the Ryukyu Kingdom studying in Beijing. He said, “These people supported the nerve center of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which made the Ryukyu a ‘Bridge between Asian nations.'”

Referring to the Fujian Free Trade Zone, Onaga said, “Okinawa is unique in Japan, having its own free-trade zone. I would like to promote economic exchanges between Okinawa and China.” He continued, “I hope that airlines will start flying between Naha and Fuzhou.”

Li said, “It is important for us to learn about our history with Okinawa. The Chinese government is actively promoting exchanges with all regions of Japan.”

In the meeting between the Chinese Premier and the delegate members, Li and Kono exchanged opinions on Japan and China’s economic relations, and on historical issues. Li said, “I think both China and Japan have the will to improve this difficult situation.”

This is the first time that Li and Japanese political figures have held a meeting. In addition to marking a gradual improvement in relations between Japan and China, the Chinese side attached importance to the political stance of Kono who has strong concerns over the Japanese administration led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

(English translation by T&CT)

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