1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement

The Okinawa Reversion Agreement (Japanese: 沖縄返還協定 Hepburn: Okinawahenkan kyōtei) was an agreement between the Japan and the United States in which the United States relinquished in favor of Japan all rights and interests under Article III of the Treaty of San Francisco obtained as a result of the Pacific War, thus returning the Okinawa Prefecture to Japanese sovereignty. The document was signed simultaneously in Washington, D.C. and Tokyo on June 17, 1971, by William P. Rogers on behalf of President Richard Nixon and Kiichi Aichi on behalf of Prime Minister Eisaku Satō.[1] The document was not ratified in Japan until November 24, 1971, by the National Diet.[1]

The agreement

The agreement is split up into nine major articles that specify the details of this agreement. America returned control of the Ryukyu Islands and the Daitō Islands (also known as the Okinawa Prefecture) to Japan, if the United States Armed Forces could occupy Okinawa as well have access to its facilities. The United States maintained a large military presence in Okinawa because its strategic location and intense fighting[2] made it known as the "Keystone Of The Pacific"[3] during World War II.[4][5] Under this agreement, the Ryukyu and Daitō islands would become subject to all existing and future treaties agreed upon between America and Japan. The United States would help repair damages done to land seized by United States administrations. It also states that Japan would recognize actions taken by the United States administration in these areas, and that the administrators during this time period would not be held liable for criminal activity for their actions in administration. The Government of Japan also agreed upon a payment to the United States Government $320,000,000 over the next five years.[1] The goal of this agreement for the United States was to transfer sovereignty while still ensuring that the United States could help bring up a democratic government, and ensure the Japan would not be able to become a menace of peace.[6]

The document is available online at the History and Culture Website.

Negotiations over the reversion

The reversion of Okinawa back to Japan was met with several complications between Japanese and American diplomats. Many diplomats met with each other, and genuinely wanted to solve the troubles between the two countries, however complications and conflicting interests made reversion problematic.

Early negotiations

Negotiations began between Foreign Minister Kiichi Aichi and Japanese Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson in 1968. The two worked well together, establishing an effective working relationship in hopes to quickly come to an understanding.[7] The discussions moved slowly at first, because Japan's primary concern was for a confirmed date of reversion, before agreeing upon the specifics of the agreement, which came to be known as the "clean-slate" policy.[8] Aichi's active role in foreign policy helped make a breakthrough in negotiations when he suggested Reversion by 1972, suggesting to Johnson that military bases could maintain all present freedoms until both governments agreed upon a gradual removal without any threat to regional security. In a following negotiation with Henry Kissinger, Kissinger stated that the military presence in Okinawa served as a deterrent to nuclear weapon development.[7]

Morton Halperin outlined the United States' stance on the reversion. Firstly, removal of American nuclear weapons from Okinawa. If North Korea were determined to invade South Korea, then America's willingness to fire nuclear weapons to defend the South could deter the North from invading at all. The United States was also concerned that reversion of Okinawa would be interpreted by others as retreating from Asia. The United States considered Okinawa a part of Japan, and intended to revert sovereignty by 1972, but only if their concerns were completely dealt with by then.[7]

Japan-US Kyoto Conference

At the Japan-US Kyoto Conference, Japan argued that keeping nuclear weapons in Okinawa would be redundant, and that there were more suitable areas for military presence. Support from American specialists helped persuade Americans the benefits of reversion. After the conference, a summary stated that the United States had an official concern that Japan would support the United States in the event of a crisis in the Korean Peninsula.[7][9]

Talks Between Kishi and Nixon

Special Envoy Kishi met President Nixon with two preconceived desires. Japan sought reversion by 1972 with, at least, denuclearized US military bases. On April 1, 1969, Kishi told President Nixon that, "many Japanese feel that if Japan is to play a greater role in Asia, it is quite unacceptable for part of their country to remain occupied by a foreign power." Kishi also believed that maintaining the status quo in Okinawa could risk political fallout. President Nixon assured him that he was well informed about the topic and that relations between Japan and the United States were important to him.[7]

Final stages of negotiations

The United States had informed Japan that reversion was possible if, in the event of an emergency, nuclear weapons were allowed in Okinawa. The issue was brought forth by the United States as an ultimatum. Japan complied, but the ultimatum brought up complications; what was considered an emergency that warranted nuclear weapons?[10] Although Japan did not believe such an emergency would ever occur, their goal for total denuclearization had failed. The United States also sought for fair competition with Japanese wool textile manufacturers. Because economy and government are intertwined, America pressed for regulations on wool manufacturers. Since the issue of reversion became tied to trade, top secret discussions took place at the White House, ending in an agreement to meet with other countries concerning the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in which Japan promised to support the United States' search for fair trade.[7]

China criticized the reversion of sovereignty due to their claims on the area, based on ancient Chinese maritime logs, Voyage with a Tail Wind. Their references were judged insufficiently credible to validate their claim. The historical circumstances remain a subject of debate.[11]

Reaction in Japan

The agreements sparked controversy in both Okinawa and mainland Japan for different reasons. Despite the desire of many inhabitants of the islands for some form of independence, the Japanese government decided to negotiate reversion of the prefecture back to its control.[1] The document was not ratified in Japan until November 24, 1971, by the National Diet.[1] Even before the discussions, the Ryukyu independence movement was aiming to have Okinawa attain independence from America and Japan. In Tokyo, a group of radical students discontent with American military presence in Okinawa, rioted using Molotov cocktails and steel pipes, killing a police officer.[12] The Koza riot is another example of the social unrest that took place in Japan during these times.[13] American military forces have reported that the reversion of sovereignty created a new and challenging environment for military forces to deal with.[14]

Okinawa Reversion 40th Anniversary Ceremony

In 2011, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited Okinawa and gave a speech stating the Japanese government supports Okinawa's independent plans to help improve the prefecture. He also acknowledged the burden the military bases in Okinawa have on the islanders and claimed to continue trying to reduce the burden. Noda also said that, "It is Okinawa that will be the driving force for Japan as a whole, creating a role for itself at the forefront of the Asia-Pacific era. It is we who are responsible for creating this future. There is no doubt that the aspirations of the people of Okinawa for peace, and their globally-minded spirit as a "bridge between nations" will be a tremendous asset in the development and growth of Okinawa in the 21st century."[15] Citizens in Okinawa continue to seek the removal of military bases and equal living standards with mainland Japanese citizens. Since the reversion, the inhabitants of Okinawa rely on government investment for improvement instead of American military spending.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e United States Government (17 June 1971). "Agreement Between the United States of America and Japan Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands". United States Government. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  2. ^ Mitchell, Jon (May 13, 2012). "What awaits Okinawa 40 years after reversion?". Japan Times. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  3. ^ Lewiston Daily Sun, November 22nd, 1969
  4. ^ Graham, Gordon (November–December 1972). "Okinawa Reversion: A Study in Change". Air University Review. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  5. ^ Manyin, Mark (January 22, 2013). "Senkaku (Diaoyu/Diaoyutai) Islands Dispute: U.S. Treaty Obligations" (PDF). Congressional Research Service: 7. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  6. ^ Albertson, Eileen (30 March 1973). The reversion of Okinawa its effect on the international law of sovereignty over territory. United States. p. 114.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Wakaizumi, Kei (2002). Best Course Available : A Personal Account of the Secret U.S.-Japan Okinawa Reversion Negotiations. Honolulu, HI, USA: University of Hawaii Press. p. 379. ISBN 9780824821463.
  8. ^ Kim, Hong (November 1973). "The Sato Government and the Politics of Okinawa Reversion". Asian Survey. University of California Press. 13 (11): 1035. doi:10.2307/2642857. JSTOR i325165.
  9. ^ Richard Nixon (May 28, 1969). Policy Toward Japan (Report). Washington, D.C.: National Security Council. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  10. ^ Richard Nixon; Eisaku Sato (November 19, 1969). Memorandum of Conversation, Nixon/Sato, 11/19/1969 (Report). Washington, D.C.: National Security Council. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  11. ^ Kotani, Tetsuo (2013). "The Senkaku Islands and the U.S.-Japan Alliance: Future Implications for the Asia-Pacific" (PDF). Project 2049 Institute: 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 1, 2013. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Masamachi, Inoue (April 17, 2007). Okinawa And the U.S. Military: Identity Making in the Age of Globalization. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 312. ISBN 0231138903.
  14. ^ Graham, Gordon (November–December 1972). "Okinawa Reversion A Study in Change". Air University Review.
  15. ^ "Speech by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on the occasion of the commemoration ceremony for the 40th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan (Speeches and Statements by Prime Minister) | Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet". Kantei.go.jp. 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  16. ^ Egami, Takayoshi (September 1994), "Politics in Okinawa since the Reversion of Sovereignty", Asian Survey, University of California Press, 34 (9): 840, doi:10.2307/2645169, JSTOR 2645169
Government of the Ryukyu Islands

The Government of the Ryukyu Islands (琉球政府, Ryūkyū Seifu) was the self-government of native Okinawans during the American occupation of Okinawa. It was created by proclamation of the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR) on April 1, 1952 and was abolished on May 14, 1972 when Okinawa was returned to Japan, in accordance with the 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement. The government consisted of an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. Members of legislature were elected. The legislature made its own laws, and often had conflicts with USCAR, who could overrule their decisions.

The government was headed by a Chief Executive (行政主席, Gyōsei Shuseki). From 1952 to 1960, the Chief Executive was assigned by USCAR. He was then assigned the leader of the dominant party of the legislature (1960–66), elected in the legislature (1966–68), and elected by the citizens (1968–72).

Japan-United States Friendship Act of 1975

Japan-United States Friendship Act of 1975 seek to establish a cooperative peacetime friendship through the exchange of artistic and cultural endowments. The United States statute is a declaration stating a Japan-United States friendship will provide a global model partnership leading to future peace, prosperity, and security in Asia. The Act of Congress acknowledges the 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement relinquishing United States authority of the Okinawa Prefecture better known as the Daitō Islands and Ryukyu Islands. The Act created the Japan-United States Friendship Trust Fund and Japan-United States Friendship Commission developing programs for the artistic and cultural exchanges between America and Japan.

The S. 824 legislation was passed by the 94th United States Congressional session and enacted into law by the 38th President of the United States Gerald Ford on October 20, 1975.

Japan and weapons of mass destruction

Beginning in the mid-1930s, Japan conducted numerous attempts to acquire and develop weapons of mass destruction. The 1943 Battle of Changde saw Japanese use of both bioweapons and chemical weapons, and the Japanese conducted a serious, though futile, nuclear weapon program.

Since World War II, the United States military based nuclear and chemical weapons and field tested biological anti-crop weapons in Japan.

Japan has since become a nuclear-capable state, said to be a "screwdrivers turn" away from nuclear weapons; having the capacity, the know-how, and the materials to make a nuclear bomb. Japan has consistently eschewed any desire to have nuclear weapons, and no mainstream Japanese party has ever advocated acquisition of nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction. There are controversies on whether such weapons are forbidden by the Japanese constitution or not. Japan has signed many treaties prohibiting these kinds of weapons.

Japan is the only nation that has been attacked with atomic weapons. In 1995, it was attacked with chemical weapons in a domestic terror attack.

List of U.S. governors of the Ryukyu Islands

This article lists the U.S. governors of the Ryukyu Islands, which represented the United States in the Ryukyu Islands (Japanese: 琉球諸島, Hepburn: Ryūkyū-shotō, Okinawan: 琉球/ルーチュー Ruuchuu), an archipelago of Japanese islands within Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures, centered on the Okinawa Islands (whose main island, Okinawa, is the smallest and least populated of the five Japanese home islands). The list encompasses the period of U.S. occupation, from the start of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 until the return of the islands to Japanese sovereignty in 1972, in accordance with the 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement.

Occupation of Japan

The Allied occupation of Japan at the end of World War II was led by General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, with support from the British Commonwealth. Unlike in the occupation of Germany, the Soviet Union was allowed little to no influence over Japan. This foreign presence marks the only time in Japan's history that it has been occupied by a foreign power. At MacArthur's insistence, Emperor Hirohito remained on the imperial throne. The wartime cabinet was replaced with a cabinet acceptable to the Allies and committed to implementing the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, which among other things called for the country to become a parliamentary democracy. Under MacArthur's guidance, the Japanese government introduced sweeping social reforms and implemented economic reforms that recalled American "New Deal" priorities of the 1930's under President Roosevelt. The Japanese constitution was comprehensively overhauled and the Emperor's theoretically-vast powers, which for many centuries had been constrained by conventions that had evolved over time, became strictly limited by law. The occupation, codenamed Operation Blacklist, was ended by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed on September 8, 1951, and effective from April 28, 1952, after which Japan's sovereignty – with the exception, until 1972, of the Ryukyu Islands – was fully restored.

According to John Dower, in his book Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq, the factors behind the success of the occupation were:

Discipline, moral legitimacy, well-defined and well-articulated objectives, a clear chain of command, tolerance and flexibility in policy formulation and implementation, confidence in the ability of the state to act constructively, the ability to operate abroad free of partisan politics back home, and the existence of a stable, resilient, sophisticated civil society on the receiving end of occupation policies – these political and civic virtues helped make it possible to move decisively during the brief window of a few years when defeated Japan itself was in flux and most receptive to radical change.

Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Islands (琉球諸島, Ryūkyū-shotō), also known as the Nansei Islands (南西諸島, Nansei-shotō, lit. "Southwest Islands") or the Ryukyu Arc (琉球弧, Ryūkyū-ko), are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan: the Ōsumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima Islands (further divided into the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands), with Yonaguni the westernmost. The larger are mostly high islands and the smaller mostly coral. The largest is Okinawa Island.

The climate of the islands ranges from humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) in the north to tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af) in the south. Precipitation is very high and is affected by the rainy season and typhoons. Except the outlying Daitō Islands, the island chain has two major geologic boundaries, the Tokara Strait (between the Tokara and Amami Islands) and the Kerama Gap (between the Okinawa and Miyako Islands). The islands beyond the Tokara Strait are characterized by their coral reefs.

The Ōsumi and Tokara Islands, the northernmost of the islands, fall under the cultural sphere of the Kyushu region of Japan; the people are ethnically Japanese and speak a variation of the Kagoshima dialect of Japanese. The Amami, Okinawa, Miyako, and Yaeyama Islands have a native population collectively called the Ryukyuan people, named for the former Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled them. The varied Ryukyuan languages are traditionally spoken on these islands, and the major islands have their own distinct languages. In modern times, the Japanese language is the primary language of the islands, with the Okinawan Japanese dialect prevalently spoken. The outlying Daitō Islands were uninhabited until the Meiji period, when their development was started mainly by people from the Izu Islands south of Tokyo, with the people there speaking the Hachijō language.

Administratively, the islands are divided into Kagoshima Prefecture (specifically the islands administered by Kagoshima District, Kumage Subprefecture/District, and Ōshima Subprefecture/District) in the north and Okinawa Prefecture in the south, with the divide between the Amami and Okinawa Islands, with the Daitō Islands part of Okinawa Prefecture. The northern (Kagoshima) islands are collectively called the Satsunan Islands, while the southern part of the chain (Okinawa Prefecture) are called the Ryukyu Islands in Chinese.

Ryukyu independence movement

The Ryukyu independence movement (琉球独立運動, Ryūkyū Dokuritsu Undō) or Republic of the Ryukyus (Japanese: 琉球共和国, Kyūjitai: 琉球共和國, Hepburn: Ryūkyū Kyōwakoku) is a political movement for the independence of Ryukyu Islands (commonly referred to as Okinawa after the largest island ) from Japan.

The current political manifestation of the movement emerged in 1945, after the end of the Pacific War. Some Ryukyuan people felt, as the Allied Occupation (USMGRI 1945–1950) began, that the Ryukyus should eventually become an independent state instead of being returned to Japan. From the 1950s through to 1972 however, many pushed for reunification with the mainland, hoping that this would hasten the end of the U.S. occupation (USCAR 1950–1972). The islands were returned to Japan on May 15, 1972 as the Okinawa Prefecture according to the 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement. The US-Japan Security Treaty (ANPO) signed in 1952 provides for the continuation of the American military presence in Japan, and the United States continues to maintain a heavy military presence on Okinawa Island. This set the stage for renewed political activism for Ryukyuan independence.

The Ryukyu independence movement claims both the 1609 invasion by Satsuma Domain and the Meiji construction of the Okinawa prefecture as colonial annexations of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It is highly critical of the abuses of Ryukyuan people and territory, both in the past and in the present day (such as the use of Okinawan land to host American military bases). Okinawa comprises only 0.6% of all Japanese territory, yet 75% of all United States military forces are stationed in U.S. facilities that take up 10.4% of Okinawa Prefecture i.e. 18.8-20% of Okinawa Island. U.S military personnel have been involved in many crimes committed in Okinawa, one of the most well-known being the 1995 Okinawa rape incident. The continued presence of the U.S. military remains a source of contention, especially against the Futenma Air Station. The U.S. military has failed to follow through on plans established in 1996 to reduce its presence. Independentists also emphasize the devastating environmental impact of the American bases accepted by Tokyo.

Shōwa (1926–1989)

The Shōwa era (Japanese: 昭和, Hepburn: Shōwa) refers to the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) from December 25, 1926 until his death on January 7, 1989. It was preceded by the Taishō period.

The pre-1945 and post-war Shōwa periods are almost completely different states: the pre-1945 Shōwa era (1926–1945) concerns the Empire of Japan, while post-1945 Shōwa era (1945–1989) is the State of Japan.

During the pre-1945 period, Japan moved into political totalitarianism, ultranationalism and fascism culminating in Japan's invasion of China in 1937. This was part of a global period of social upheavals and conflicts such as the Great Depression and World War II.

Defeat in the Second World War brought about radical change in Japan. For the first and only time in its history, Japan was occupied by foreign powers; this occupation lasted seven years. Allied occupation brought forth sweeping democratic reforms. It led to the formal end of the emperor's status as a demigod and the transformation of Japan from a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy to a Constitutional monarchy with a liberal democracy. In 1952, with the Treaty of San Francisco, Japan became a sovereign nation again. The post-war Shōwa period is characterized by the Japanese economic miracle.

The Shōwa era was longer than the reign of any previous Japanese emperor. Emperor Shōwa was both the longest-lived and longest-reigning historical Japanese emperor, as well as the longest-reigning monarch in the world at that time. On 7 January 1989, Crown Prince Akihito succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne upon the death of his father Emperor Shōwa. This marked the start of the Heisei period.

Territorial disputes of Japan

Japan is currently engaged in several territorial disputes with nearby countries, including Russia, South Korea, the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of China.

Timeline of Japanese history

This is a timeline of Japanese history, comprising important legal, territorial and cultural changes and political events in Japan and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Japan. See also the list of Emperors of Japan and Prime Ministers of Japan and the list of years in Japan.

Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan

The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan (日本国とアメリカ合衆国との間の相互協力及び安全保障条約, Nihon-koku to Amerika-gasshūkoku to no Aida no Sōgo Kyōryoku oyobi Anzen Hoshō Jōyaku), also known in Japan as Anpo jōyaku (安保条約) or just Anpo (安保) for short, was first signed in 1951 at the San Francisco Presidio following the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco (commonly known as the Peace Treaty of San Francisco) at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. Then, the Security Treaty was later amended further on January 1960 between the US and Japan in Washington.

When the Treaty was first signed, it contained provisions that permitted the United States to act for the sake of maintaining peace in East Asia and even exert its power on Japanese domestic quarrels. The latter part mentioned has been deleted in the revised version of the treaty. In the amended treaty, articles that delineate mutual defense obligations, the US obligations to pre-inform Japan in times of the US army mobilization were included to alleviate unequal status suggested in the treaty signed in 1952. The treaty established that any attack against Japan or the United States perpetrated within Japanese territorial administration would be dangerous to the respective countries' own peace and safety. It requires both countries to act to meet the common danger. To support that requirement, it provided for the continued presence of US military bases in Japan.

The treaty also included general provisions on the further development of international cooperation and on improved future economic cooperation.The treaty has lasted longer than any other alliance between two great powers since the 1648 Peace of Westphalia. The treaty had a minimum term of 10 years. However, it provided that it would remain in force permanently unless one party gives one year's notice that it wishes to terminate it.

Treaty of San Francisco

The Treaty of San Francisco (サンフランシスコ講和条約, San-Furanshisuko kōwa-Jōyaku), also called the Treaty of Peace with Japan (日本国との平和条約, Nihon-koku to no Heiwa-Jōyaku), re-established peaceful relations between Japan and the Allied Powers after World War II. It was officially signed by 49 nations on September 8, 1951, in San Francisco, California. It came into force on April 28, 1952, and officially ended the American-led Allied occupation of Japan. According to Article 11 of the treaty, Japan accepts the judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and of other Allied War Crimes Courts imposed on Japan both within and outside Japan.This treaty served to officially end Japan's position as an imperial power, to allocate compensation to Allied civilians and former prisoners of war who had suffered Japanese war crimes during World War II, and to end the Allied post-war occupation of Japan and return full sovereignty to that nation. This treaty made extensive use of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to enunciate the Allies' goals.

This treaty, along with the Security Treaty signed that same day, is said to mark the beginning of the San Francisco System; this term, coined by historian John W. Dower, signifies the effects of Japan's relationship with the United States and its role in the international arena as determined by these two treaties and is used to discuss the ways in which these effects have governed Japan's post-war history.

This treaty also introduced the problem of the legal status of Taiwan due to its lack of specificity as to what country Taiwan was to be surrendered, and hence some supporters of Taiwan independence argue that sovereignty of Taiwan is still undetermined.

U.S. nuclear weapons in Japan

United States nuclear weapons were stored secretly at bases throughout Japan following World War II. Secret agreements between the two governments allowed nuclear weapons to remain in Japan until 1972, to move through Japanese territory, and for the return of the weapons in time of emergency.


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