Okinawa Prefecture is Japan’s southern-most prefecture, and it consists of hundreds of the Ryukyu Islands in a chain over 1,000 km long. These islands extend southwest from Kyushu (the southwestern most of Japan’s main four islands) almost to Taiwan.
- Capital: Naha
- Region: Kyushu
- Island: Okinawa
- Governor: Takeshi Onaga
- Population (Mar. 31. 2013): Total 1,413,482 (Male: 693,541 Female: 719,941)
- Website: www.pref.okinawa.jp/english/
- Prefectural symbols:
- Flower: Deigo (Erythrina variegata)
- Tree: Pines Pinus luchuensis (Ryukyumatsu)
- Bird: Okinawa woodpecker (Sapheopipo noguchii) (Noguchigera)
- Fish: Banana Fish (Pterocaesio digramma) (Takasago or Gurukun)
Since prehistoric times, groups centered on race or kinship were built in many parts of the island during the 10th century. Soon, struggles for power were followed by three kingdoms in Okinawa: Hokuzan in the northern part of the island; Chuzan in the center; and Nanzan in the south. In 1429, these were brought under unified control. Afterward, the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom commenced. The Ryukyu Kingdom had a strong relationship with China. Envoys called “Sappushi” were received from the Chinese emperor to certify royal succession. The kingdom was a transit-trading hub and enjoyed great prosperity from commerce with the Japanese mainland and Southeast Asia. Then, in the beginning of the 17th century, the Satsuma fiefdom in Southern Kyusyu invaded and conquered the Ryukyu Kingdom. From then on, although the kingdom maintained the “Sappu” relationship with China, control by Satsuma was tightened.
In 1879, the 450-year history of the kingdom was ended by the Meiji government, and Okinawa Prefecture was born. In the final battles of WWⅡ, Okinawa was the only land engagement of the war in Japan. After the war, Okinawa remained under American military occupation for 27 years. In 1972, reversion to Japanese sovereignty finally came. In recent years, riding the crest of an Okinawan boom, the numbers of tourists are continuously rising, and it has become the most popular resort area in Japan.