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1. The Tectonics of Reversion and Promoting Identification (ittaika)

The profound impact of Okinawa's administrative reversion to Japan in May 1972 should not be retrospectively underestimated. This systemic shift affected every aspect of the economy and society of Okinawa. Any argument holding that a de facto reversion occurred prior to de jure realisation is erroneous. The GOJ began to play a greater role in Okinawa’s affairs at the behest of the USG from the early- to mid-1960’s, particularly within the joint Consultative and Technical Committees,[1] but its involvement was confined to a small, strictly non-military and non-controversial realm, primarily focused on the provision of financial assistance for education, social welfare, economic promotion, and such public works projects that the US deemed necessary or appropriate. Since the USG would not relinquish Okinawa until it was ready the GOJ was kept at arm's length. This persisted until the GOJ became amenable to continued, essentially unaltered US use of military bases in Okinawa after reversion. Independent of bilateral negotiations, of course, the GOJ initiated tentative post-reversion socio-economic development planning for Okinawa from about 1966, but was unable to get down to the real nitty-gritty until the formation of an appropriate mechanism: the US-Japan-Ryukyu Advisory Committee, in 1968. Okinawa was no less consumed by the thought of reversion. The GRI, municipal governments, organisations, and individuals, had ideas on what should or may happen. Economic fears were high, with few wanting to reclaim the dubious honour of being among Japan’s poorest areas. Okinawans were also keen to see if Sato Eisaku would keep his hondo nami pledge, putting Okinawa’s US bases under exactly the same conditions as mainland US bases.[2] In 1951, the GOJ had sacrificed Okinawa under the MTPJ for the good of Japan, without any apparent loss of sleep. The result of the worry, uncertainty, and myriad opinion on reversion exploding in the local media, however, was a remarkable period of creative energy. Ex-governor Ota Masahide wrote at the time, somewhat jestingly, of an ittaika boom.[3]

As has been detailed, US President Kennedy first hinted at reversion in 1962.[4] The issue appears to have drifted off the radar screen for a while, resurfacing when Sato became PM in late-1964. In a joint communiqué issued after Sato’s first meeting with new President Lyndon B. Johnson in January 1965,[5] Sato expressed his strong desire that, when feasible, Okinawa be restored to Japan.[6] Visiting Okinawa in August 1965, Sato stated "until Okinawa’s reversion to Japan (the Fatherland) takes place the postwar era will not have ended."[7] Given the importance of Okinawa’s bases at the time Johnson offered only a minor expansion in the function of the Consultative and Technical committees, urging the GOJ to continue financial aid efforts to improve the socio-economic welfare of Okinawans.[8] In truth, Sato felt Washington would be far more agreeable to the idea of reversion if Japan supported US policy in Vietnam.[9] Indeed, the view Sato received from his own government was that the US would need full assurance of continued free use of Okinawa in a post-reversion era as the basic quid pro quo.[10] When Sato and Johnson met again in November 1967, there had been a distinct mellowing. While no date was set, the communiqué specified Okinawa’s status would be kept under joint review, with the aim of returning it to Japan.[11] Clearly, once negotiators separated the issue of post-reversion use of military bases in Okinawa from administrative reversion itself, the path to agreement cleared. This commitment was cemented in a decision to accelerate ittaika efforts,[12] leading to a removal of the "remaining economic and social barriers" between Okinawa and Japan.[13] The Ryukyu Retto Kodo Benmukan ni taisuru Shimon Iinkai, or Advisory Committee to the High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands (HCRI-ADCOM, or ADCOM), was established, charged with “advising and making mutually agreed upon recommendations regarding economic, social, and related matters."[14] By virtue of its authority in Okinawa, the US chaired ADCOM, with the GRI and GOJ equally represented. GRI representative Senaga Hiroshi[15] availed himself of an opportunity to punch at the same weight as the two sovereign states, becoming as active as the GOJ’s Takase Jiro in presenting initiatives.

As is the case with the vast bulk of all government business, over 95% of what ADCOM discussed was highly detailed and neither dramatic nor exciting. Okinawa’s transformation from an American-style system of administration that had developed and expanded over a quarter-century would be extremely traumatic. The main function of ADCOM was to ease as much trauma as possible. Most of this fell under the broad rubric of ittaika, or ‘identification,’ as the GOJ rendered it in English. There were three interrelated facets to it. Firstly, since the US had been under no obligation to rebuild along Japanese lines in the postwar period, much of what existed in Okinawa in 1968 resembled US rather than Japanese models. The primary task was to bring systems in line with those in Japan to the greatest extent possible, but to make some allowances in recognition of Okinawa’s postwar development history.[16] Second, certain Japanese systems had developed since 1945, of which Okinawa had no experience, that would be put in place. Lastly, there was the wide socio-economic gap between Okinawa and Japan to tackle: from below-national average social overhead capital endowments, to a low per capita income (PCI) level relative to other prefectures.[17] The GOJ defined this latter programme as kakusa no zesei (kakusa zesei), or ‘rectifying disparities.’[18] The common perception in Okinawa, of course, was that the disparities would worsen with reversion. To address most of the ittaika-related issues (the aforementioned 95%) ADCOM agreed that Tokyo would be invited to dispatch a high-level survey team to Okinawa.[19] In response, the GOJ decided that each of its fifteen government agencies would send a representative.[20] The team would be led by Yamano Kokichi, director of the Sorifu tokubetsu chiiki renraku kyoku (Special Areas Liaison Bureau of the Prime Minister’s Office).[21] On 16th July, a 1,200-page, 13-volume Hondo-Okinawa ittaika chosa hokokusho (Japan-Okinawa Identification Survey Report), was presented to Sato.[22] While the GOJ incorporated many inputs into subsequent reversion legislation this report certainly constituted the basis for much of it.

[1] These committees were discussed in the previous chapter. With regard to establishment objectives see USCAR, Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands Report for the Period 1st July 1963 to 30th June 1964, Vol. 12 (Naha: HiCOM, 1964), 269-271.

[2] Sato did not. In a secret agreement attached to the Sato-Nixon Communiqué on 21st November 1969, Sato agreed that "in time of…emergency the [USG] will require the re-entry of nuclear weapons and transit rights in Okinawa with prior consultation with the [GOJ]. The [USG] would anticipate a favourable response. The [USG] also requires…standby retention and activation in time of…emergency of existing nuclear storage locations in Okinawa." Wakaizumi Kei, Tasaku takarishi o shinzamuto hossu (Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, 1994). Sato was also party to the aforementioned ‘5.15 Memo’ signed at the time of reversion. Okinawa-ken, Chiji Koshitsu, Kichi Taisakushitsu, Okinawa no Beigun kichi (1998), 150-152.

[3] Ota Masahide, Kyozetsusuru Okinawa: Nihon fukki to Okinawa no kokoro, (Tokyo: Kindai Bungei Sha, 1996), 57. The article originally appeared in the Okinawa Taimusu, 22nd-24th January 1968.

[4] USCAR, Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands Report for Period 1st July 1969 to 30th June 1970, Vol. 18 (Naha: HiCOM, USCAR, 1970), and Okinawa fukki no kiroku, 382-383.

[5] A swiftly arranged meeting, given that Sato had been in office for just two months.

[6] US DoS, Department of State Bulletin 1336 (1965), 135-136.

[7] “Okinawa no sokoku fukki ga jitsugen shinai kagiri sengo wa owatteinai.” 'Prime Minister Eisaku Sato's Statement at Naha International Airport, 19th August 1965,' USCAR, Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands Report for the Period 1st July 1965 to 30th June 1966, Vol. 14 (Naha: HiCOM, USCAR, 1966), 288. It is interesting to note that many protested Sato’s visit on the basis that the GOJ had sacrificed Okinawa in 1951 in full knowledge the US would transform it into a base from which bombing and other offensive missions could be conducted. One particularly pithy message for Sato read: “baikokudo Sato kaere!” ("Sato, bugger off home you traitor!"). Ahagon Shoko, The Island Where People Live (Hong Kong: Christian Conference of Asia, 1989), 151.

[8] In the interim the GOJ did not remain idle. Sato initiated several low-key reversion-related within the GOJ. In early-1966, for example, representatives from the quasi-governmental Nampo Doho Engokai were dispatched to Washington to sound out opinion on a ‘functional reversion’ idea with individuals like Robert Fearey and Robert Scalapino. In August 1966, another quasi-government body, the Okinawa Mondai Kondankai (Okinawa Problem Discussion Group), was established, with Ohama Nobumoto, an ex-Waseda University President and education activist born in Ishigaki, picked as chairman. See Ohama Nobumoto, Watashi no Okinawa sengoshi (Tokyo: Konshu no Nihon, 1971).

[9] For an overview of Japan-US relations during the Vietnam War period from 1964-1968, see Michael Schaller, Altered States: The United States and Japan since the Occupation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 184-209.

[10] Japan’s Ambassador to the US, Shimoda Takezo, stated in an interview on 15th June 1967, that "the current Okinawa problem was 50% an issue for negotiation with the US, and 50% a domestic Japanese issue." Shimoda argued that bases were, and would continue to be necessary for the US, but that this should not prevent reversion. Sengo Okinawa keizaishi, 732. In addition, Japanese Foreign Minister Miki Takeo met US Ambassador to Japan Alexis Johnson on 11th October to discuss the impending summit. As well as revealing the recommendations of the Okinawa Mondai Kondankai (chukan) mid-term report to Sato: that reversion should ideally be speedily accomplished, within the next 3 years; that a joint Japan-US committee should be set up to deal with issues associated with the reversion process, and; that the ittaika policy between Okinawa and Japan should be promoted, hopefully leading to the closing of the social and economic gap that currently exists between both regions (kakusa zesei). Perhaps most important was Miki’s clear statement to Johnson that the GOJ recognised the USG’s need for continued free use of Okinawa’s bases. Sengo Okinawa keizaishi, 743-745.

[11] US DoS, Department of State Bulletin 1484 (1967), 745-746, and Okinawa fukki no kiroku, 342.

[12] Ittaika has several meanings, each of which was applied at points between Kennedy’s speech in 1962 recognising Okinawa to be part of Japan, and the latter part of the 1960’s when reversion was set to be realised. Ittaika literally means "to make into one body," but in practical usage in the context of Okinawa and reversion was generally rendered as either unification or identification. The latter sense was favoured by the GOJ because it had a distinctly non-controversial ring to it.

[13] US DoS, Department of State Bulletin 1484 (1967), 745-746.

[14] ADCOM, Final Report by the Advisory Committee to the High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands on its Recommendations for the Period 1st March 1968 to 30th April 1970 (Naha: ADCOM, 30th October 1970), 1-2.

[15] Senaga Hiroshi was discussed in the previous chapter. His English ability (demonstrated during the 1955 land problem presentations before Congress) was a factor in him getting the ADCOM job.

[16] Many professionals in Okinawa, such as teachers, doctors, and lawyers, for example, had qualified to practice under US standards that were technically different from Japan’s. Clearly, these people could not reasonably be expected to qualify again after reversion. The GOJ was obliged to show flexibility.

[17] The PCI disparity issue is touched on in the following section, and again later in the text.

[18] First mention of kakusa zesei as applied to Okinawa came in the Okinawa Mondai Kondankai mid-term report in late-1967. It had become very much part of the reversion lexicon by the time “hondo to no kakusa no zesei” had become a major goal in the Kokudocho (National Land Agency) Shin Zenkoku Sogo Kaihatsu Keikaku (basically, Second 15-Year National General Development Plan) in May 1969. On Okinawa in the context of National Land Agency planning see Yokkaichi Masatoshi, ‘Kokudo keikaku kara mita Okinawa: Kaihatsu no rekishi,’ NIRA Seisaku Kenkyu 4 (1997), 10-13. Arguably, the idea of kakusa zesei grew out of the overarching goal of chiiki aida no kinko aru hatten (balanced development across all of Japan’s regions) in the first Kokudocho plan in 1962.

[19] ‘Recommendation on Early Dispatch of GOJ Survey Team to Okinawa,’ 11th March 1968. (Naha: ADCOM, 1968). The idea of an ittaika survey team had been suggested by Takase Jiro in an 11-item list of proposals from the GOJ to be taken up be ADCOM. ‘Official Minutes of the Third Meeting of the Advisory Committee to the High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands, 8th March, 1968.’ (Naha: ADCOM, 1968).

[20] GOJ, Sorifu, ‘The Survey Item [sic] of the Survey Team of the Government of Japan for the Identification (ITTAIKA) of Okinawa with Japan Proper.’ Undated document presented by Takase Jiro, the GOJ representative, at the 18th Meeting of ADCOM, 14th May 1968. There were 17 people on the group, the Tokubetsu Chiiki Renraku Kyoku sending three representatives. For names and positions see: Yamano Kokichi, Okinawa henkan hitorigoto (Tokyo, Gyosei Sha, 1982), 332. The 15 ministries were: Prime Minister’s Office, Economic Planning Agency, Justice, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education, Health and Welfare, Agriculture and Forestry, International Trade and Industry, Transport, Posts and Telecommunications, Labour, Construction, Local Autonomy, and Police.

[21] Yamano Kokichi presented details of the focus of his team in April 1968. GOJ, Sorifu, ‘On The Policies for Identification of Japan Proper and the Ryukyu Islands (Draft), 22nd April 1968,’ (Tokyo: GOJ, 1968). Presented by the GOJ representative at the 13th meeting of ADCOM on 22nd April 1968.

[22] An excellent description and analysis of the ittaika report may be found in Sengo Okinawa keizaishi, 798-803. See the reflections of Yamano Kokichi in the aforementioned Okinawa henkan hitorigoto.



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