Gov. Denny Tamaki on the “Okinawan Spirit”

Gov. Denny Tamaki on the “Okinawan Spirit”

Gov. Denny Tamaki

May 18, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

Gov. Denny Tamaki was asked about the “Okinawan spirit” during a regular press conference held on May 17, on account of the 47th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan from U.S. rule. The governor explained the Okinawan spirit is “appreciating the chimugukuru (Okinawan heart) passed down from our uyafafuji (ancestors); people helping each other while appreciating independence, coexistence and diversity; mutual cooperation towards everyone’s shared happiness and not leaving anyone behind; and aspiring to actualize these ideas and philosophy.” Tamaki’s motto, “an Okinawan society in which no one is left behind,” serves as the pillar in prefectural government policies—it appears the governor has layered his personal philosophy onto the “Okinawan spirit” in his interpretation.

Gov. Tamaki also explained chimugukuru as “a shared sense of selflessness, an Okinawan identity of wanting to help others.”

Past governors have all shared their views on the “Okinawan spirit.” Junji Nishime’s take, “yearning to be yamatonchu (Japanese), while not being able to embrace it in our hearts,” is an anecdote still repeated today. Ota Masahide, on the other hand, regarded the Okinawan spirit as “a peace-loving spirit of coexistence,” while Keiichi Inamine viewed it as a “combination of the past three governors’ interpretations.”

The late Gov. Takeshi Onaga had articulated the Okinawan sprit as “the spirit of living proud, while honoring the hard work and adversities experienced by our uyafafuji, and thinking about the happiness of our children and grandchildren.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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