Post-war archives including 16,000 films digitized, available online

Post-war archives including 16,000 films digitized, available online

From left; Genpei Ishikawa, Takaaki Muraoka and Yoshihiko Izumikawa brief on the “Okinawan Post-War Education History and Reversion Archive Project” on Jan. 19 at the Zakimi Castle Ruins & Yuntanza Museum in Yomitan.

January 20, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo


The village of Yomitan has been working on digitizing copious amounts of records as part of the “Okinawan Post-War Education History and Reversion Archive Project.”

The village hosted a briefing session on Jan. 19 to report on the progress of the project.

The event was held at the Zakimi Castle Ruins & Yuntanza Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Yomitan.

The digitized records are part of the 80,000 photographs, films, books and audio tapes Yomitan inherited from the Okinawa Teacher’s Union in 2013.

Takaaki Muraoka, a doctoral student of political science at Kyushu University’s Graduate School said, “These records are valuable, as many of the photos are symbolic of post-war Okinawa.”


The project is funded by a one-time donation and funds sourced by crowdfunding.

So far 16,000 negative films and 6,440 booklets have been digitized. Before Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, Chobyo Yara, a Yomitan native, served as the president of the teacher’s union.

Thus, Yomitan was chosen to inherit the archives. Some of the digitized documents are now available on the Yomitan Village website.


Digitized photographs depict scenes of the Ainu people speaking with Yara in Naha City; the 1969 Camp Schwab investigation in Henoko, Nago City; and protesters and riot police clashing after the Legislature of the Ryukyu Government passed a vote of thanks to the signing of the Okinawa Reversion Agreement in 1971.


Muraoka joined Genpei Ishikawa, a former president of the Okinawa Teacher’s Union and former secretary to Yara, and Yoshihiko Izumikawa, director of the Yomitan Village Library, at the briefing session. The three debated in a panel discussion after they each gave a brief.


Muraoka analyzed both the American records and the inherited records. “You start to see myriad things. For instance, changes in ways the U.S. expropriates land, and the U.S. manipulation of elections,” he said.


Ishikawa hopes of “building a Chobyo Yara memorial, storing the records there, and use them to foster rich minds.”


Izumikawa told the crowd, “Archives come to life when people come to see them. Everyone should make full use of it.”


About 20 people attended the briefing session. A photo exhibit of 43 photographs handpicked from the archives is on display through Feb. 3 at the Yuntanza museum.

Archive books are available for viewing at the Yomitan Village Library.


(English translation by T&CT & Monica Shingaki)


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