Abe to visit Chichijima amid treaty ceremony protests

April 11, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Plans by the Japanese government to hold a ceremony commemorating the San Francisco Peace Treaty on April 28 are facing criticism from islands that were forsaken in the historical document.

Although the treaty restored Japan's sovereignty 61 years ago, the Ogasawara island chain remained under U.S. control until 1968 when the islands were returned to Japanese administration. They now come under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo metropolitan government.

In a bid to placate protesters, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit the archipelago's most populated island, Chichijima, on April 14 for a meeting with local residents to discuss their views.

Aides to Abe said the visit to Chichijima was intended to show consideration for those areas that were not covered under the treaty's restoration of sovereignty.

Abe also plans to visit nearby Iwojima island, where some of the bloodiest fighting took place in the waning months of World War II.

Okinawa, which was also left under U.S. control in the treaty until 1972, has also criticized the central government's plan to hold the ceremony.

Many Okinawans consider April 28 as a shameful day when their prefecture was forsaken by the Japanese government.

The issue has added to the central government's problems in relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to the Henoko district of Nago, also in the prefecture.

The Okinawa prefectural government, meanwhile, decided on April 10 that Governor Hirokazu Nakaima would not attend the ceremony to be held in Tokyo. Vice Governor Kurayoshi Takara will attend in place of Nakaima.

Nakaima issued a statement that said, "I hope the central government will understand that the people of Okinawa hold various views about the ceremony."

Takara said, "There are some in Okinawa who consider (April 28) to be a 'day of humiliation' and I believe the governor made his decision after agonizing over the issue. Okinawa has a very complicated postwar history. I hope those attending the ceremony will deepen their understanding."

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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The Ogasawara island chain, with Chichijima island in the background (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The Ogasawara island chain, with Chichijima island in the background (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • The Ogasawara island chain, with Chichijima island in the background (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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