Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where is Ryukyu Kingdom(琉球国)?

In ancient time,between China and Japan, there was a country called Ryukyu Kingdom. What happen to Ryukyu Kingdom today, we no longer hear the name of this kingdom in modern world. The kingdom had disappeared from the earth, without anyone really concern about it. This make me remember all the small nations or kingdoms, which had been lost and occupied by stronger neighboring countries. It is just like the history of East Timor, where nobody was concern in the day the small country was occupied by their neighboring country, because it was a small country, with no political interest to the world....

Today Ryukyu Kingdom has disappeared, their citizen had become the citizen of another nation. The younger generation of the people of Ryukyu Kingdom, may have brainwashed to accept the dominion over their motherland. This was a sad chapter of the world history. Another vassal state of Japan, Korea was able to become an independent nation, but not Ryukyu Kingdom. Unlike the other small states in the world, like East Timor, Nagaland, the people of Ryukyu quietly accepted their fate. That was the end of the Ryukyu Kingdom, the sound become silence, the past of the kingdom only restricted to Tourism history....

In Okinawa, Japan and for many Okinawan descendants living abroad, the term “uchinanchu” refers to any person of Okinawan ancestry, there is a small voices still calling, Ryukyu people.....

Map of Ryukyu Kingdom(today Okinawa Prefecture of Japan)

View Larger Map

Ryūkyū Kingdom

The Ryūkyū Kingdom (琉球國 Rūchū kuku or Lewchew, or Luchu) was an independent kingdom which ruled most of the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th century to the 19th century. The Kings of Ryūkyū unified Okinawa Island and extended the kingdom to the Amami Islands in modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture, and the Sakishima Islands near Taiwan. Despite its small size, the kingdom played a central role in the maritime trade networks of medieval East and Southeast Asia.

In the 14th century, small domains scattered on Okinawa Island were unified into three principalities: Hokuzan (北山, Northern Mountain), Chūzan (中山, Central Mountain) and Nanzan (南山, Southern Mountain). This was known as the Three Kingdoms or Sanzan (三山, Three Mountains) period. Hokuzan, which constituted much of the northern half of the island, was the largest in terms of land area, and strong militarily, but was economically the weakest of the three. Nanzan comprised the southern portion of the island. Chūzan lay in the center of the island, and was the strongest economically. Its political capital at Shuri, neighbored the major trade port of Naha and center of traditional Chinese learning, Kumemura. These sites, and Chūzan as a whole, would continue to form the center of the Ryūkyū Kingdom until its abolition by Japan.

Once the independent kingdom of Ryūkyū (琉球), which was a tributary state of imperial China, the islands were first invaded and brought under the control of Satsuma (modern-day Kagoshima) in 1609, who continued to use them as a conduit for trade with China, to the profit of all three parties

The first mention of the word Ryukyu was written in the Book of Sui. This Ryukyu might refer to Taiwan, not the Ryukyu islands.[citation needed] Okinawa was the Japanese word depicting the islands, first seen in the biography of Jianzhen, written in 779. Agricultural societies begun in the 8th century slowly developed until the 12th century. Since the islands are located in the center of the East China Sea relatively close to Japan, China and South-East Asia, the Ryūkyū Kingdom became a prosperous trading nation. Also during this period, many Gusukus, similar to castles, were constructed. The Ryūkyū Kingdom had a tributary relationship with the Chinese Empire beginning in the 15th century.

In 1609 the Satsuma clan, which controlled the region that is now Kagoshima Prefecture, invaded the Ryūkyū Kingdom. The Ryūkyū Kingdom was obliged to agree to form a tributary relationship with the Satsuma and the Tokugawa shogunate, while maintaining its previous tributary relationship with China; Ryukyuan sovereignty was maintained since complete annexation would have created a conflict with China. The Satsuma clan earned considerable profits from trades with China during a period in which foreign trade was heavily restricted by the shogunate.

Though Satsuma maintained strong influence over the islands, the Ryūkyū Kingdom maintained a considerable degree of domestic political freedom for over two hundred years. Four years after the 1868 Meiji Restoration, the Japanese government, through military incursions, officially annexed the kingdom and renamed it Ryukyu han. At the time, the Qing Dynasty of China asserted sovereignty over the islands of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, since the Ryūkyū Kingdom was also a tributary nation of China.

Ryukyu han became Okinawa Prefecture of Japan in 1879, even though all other hans had become prefectures of Japan in 1872. In 1912, Okinawans first obtained the right to vote to send representatives to the national Diet which had been established in 1890.

The timeline of lost kingdom- Ryukyu Kingdom

1372 - The first Ming dynasty envoy visits Okinawa, which had been divided into three kingdoms, during the Sanzan period. Formal tributary relations with the Chinese Empire begin.
1416 - Chūzan, led by Shō Hashi, occupies Nakijin gusuku, capital of Hokuzan.
1429 - Chūzan occupies Shimajiri Osato gusuku, capital of Nanzan, unifying Okinawa Island. Shō Hashi establishes the Kingdom of Ryūkyū, ruling as king with his capital at Shuri (now part of modern-day Naha).
1470 - Shō En (Kanemaru) establishes the Second Shō Dynasty.
1477 - The third king, Shō Shin, ascends to the throne. Golden age of the kingdom.
1609 (April 5)- daimyō (Lord) of Satsuma in southern Kyūshū conquers the kingdom. King of Ryūkyū becomes a Japanese vassal.
1624 - Lord of Satsuma annexes the Amami Islands.
1846 - Dr. Bernard Jean Bettelheim (d. 1870), a British Protestant missionary, arrives in Ryūkyū Kingdom. He establishes the first foreign hospital on the island at the Naminoue Gokoku-ji Temple.
1853 - Commodore Matthew Perry of the US Navy visits the kingdom. Betteleheim leaves with Perry.
1866 - The last official mission from the Qing Empire visits the kingdom.
1872 - The Japanese government unilaterally abolished the Ryukyu Kingdom, and declared the islands to be the Ryukyu Han (Ryukyu fief), with Shō Tai (尚泰) as the head of the fief 藩王 (Han'ō).
1874 - The last tributary envoy to China is dispatched from Naha.
1879 - Japan replaces the Ryūkyū han with Okinawa Prefecture, formally annexing the islands. King Shō Tai (尚泰) is given the title of marquis (侯爵) and removed to Tokyo for easy control by Japan.

Following the Battle of Okinawa and the end of World War II in 1945, Okinawa was under United States administration for 27 years. During the trusteeship rule the United States Air Force established numerous military bases on the Ryukyu islands. During the Korean War, B-29 Superfortresses flew bombing missions from Kadena AFB over Korea and China.

In 1972, the U.S. government returned the islands to Japanese administration. Under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, the United States Forces Japan (USFJ) have maintained a large military presence. 27,000 personnel, including 15,000 Marines, contingents from the Navy, Army and Air Force, and their 22,000 family members are stationed in Okinawa. Since 1960, the U.S. and Japan have maintained an agreement that allows the U.S. to secretly bring nuclear weapons into Japan. Both tactical and strategic weapons have been maintained in Okinawa. 18% of the main island was occupied by U.S. military bases and 75% of all USFJ bases are located in Okinawa prefecture.

Despite strong appeals for some form of Okinawan independence, Japanese government officials ignored this perspective, and negotiated with the United States around the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. Despite popular rioting and protests around the issue of reversion in both Okinawa and mainland Japan, with many people arguing against a position of reversion, the leadership of Japan worked out a reversion agreement with the United States that placed Okinawa back under the control of Japan, but maintained the U.S. military forces on the islands. On June 17, 1971, the Japanese government signed the treaty with the United States that authorized the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. In protest, over 100,000 people marched and rallied throughout Japan, in dissatisfaction with the Reversion. Many protesters resorted to violent tactics in protest, and in November 1971 over 300 people were arrested in the Hibiya district in Tokyo, in the riots and protests that followed. Despite these protests, however, the Japanese National Diet eventually ratified the Reversion treaty on November 24, 1971. Despite the Reversion, however, the issues that provided the main impetus for the Reversion - mainly, the U. S. military bases, and the problems that they caused - still remain. (source:

I wonder was there consent from international community and from stake holders like China or Taiwan, prior to returning Ryukyu to Japan? USA was not the owner of the islands, but only a custodian or trustee of the islands after WW2, did USA has the capacity or authority to unilaterally act in the way? or did USA did it as political agenda of cold war to protect her interest in the region? I hope international law academician will do a research on it. But from the later political development in the region, it was clear that a strategic move by USA was for her political and military interest in the region. Where is the legal right and human right of the Ryukyu people, at least their views should be taken into consideration for the decision to return the Ryukyu islands to Japan. At least International Court or world bodies like United Nation may be consulted for the proper action to be taken, not unilateral action. This left a political time bomb in the region, where USA can play a role in future. A smart political move by USA to circle China, their perceptive enemy in cold war, and rival in global economy......

Ryūkyū independence movement

The nihongo|Ryūkyū independence movement|琉球独立運動|Ryūkyū Dokuritsu Undō is a movement for the independence of Okinawa and the surrounding islands (Ryukyu Islands), from Japan. The movement re-merged in 1945, after the end of the Pacific War. Some Ryukyuan people felt, as the Allied Occupation began, that the Ryukyus (Okinawa) should eventually become an independent state, instead of being returned to Japan. The majority pushed for unification with the mainland, hoping that this would hasten the end of the Allied Occupation there. The US-Japan Security Treaty was signed in 1951 as re-unification occurred, and providing for the continuation of the American military presence. This set the stage for renewed political movement for Ryukyu independence.

Historical context

The Ryūkyū Kingdom was conquered by the Japanese feudal domain of Satsuma in 1609, and held as a semi-independent state until it was formally annexed and transformed into Okinawa Prefecture in 1879. It is likely that there were various proponents of independence from Satsuma/Japan during this period, and from China as well, to which Ryūkyū was a tributary state. However, no significant popular movement arose during this time.

Similarly, there may have been significant movements for Okinawan independence following its annexation, in the period prior to and during World War II. Following the war, the United States Occupation government took over control of Okinawa, retaining control until 1972, twenty years after the formal occupation of the rest of Japan had ended. There was pressure in 1945, immediately following the war, for the creation of a fully independent Ryūkyūan state, while later in the Occupation period there arose a strong movement not for independence but for a return to Japanese sovereignty.

Since 1972, and the return of Okinawa to Japanese control, voices turned once again towards the aim of a fully independent Ryūkyūan state.

Motives & Ideology

Among those who sought a return to Japanese sovereignty, there was a basic belief that the people of Okinawa were a part of the Japanese people, whether ethnically, culturally, or politically. During the Meiji period, when the Ryūkyū Kingdom was formally abolished and annexed, there was a strong push for assimilation; the Meiji government, and other cultural and intellectual agents, sought to make the people of the new prefecture see themselves as "Japanese." Ryūkūans were given Japanese citizenship, names, passports, and other official representations of their status as part of the Japanese people. They were also incorporated into the newly-founded national public education system. Through this education system and other methods, both governmental and independent, Ryukuans, along with minorities from all parts of the country, were gradually integrated into the Japanese people. There was a significant reimagining of the histories of Ryūkyū and of Hokkaidō, which was annexed at the same time, and an insistence that the Ainu of Hokkaidō and the Ryūkyūan people were "Japanese", ethnically and culturally, going back many centuries, despite originally having significantly different cultures. With time these reimagined identities took hold in the younger generations. They were born in Okinawa Prefecture, as Japanese citizens, and saw themselves as belonging there.

This does not mean that the independent identities have been completely lost. Many Ryukyuan people see themselves as a separate Ryukyuan race, ethnically different, with a unique and separate cultural heritage. They see a great difference between themselves and the "mainland" Japanese, and many feel a strong connection to Ryukyuan traditional culture and the pre-1609 history of independence. There is strong criticism of the Meiji government's assimilation policies and ideological agenda.
(source: wikipedia)

Ryukyuan languages which are incomprehensible to Japanese speakers. Ryukyuan languages as different languages from Japanese. Okinawa also has its own religious beliefs, generally characterized by ancestor worship and the respecting of relationships between the living, the dead, and the gods and spirits of the natural world.

Recent events

Though there are pressures in the US and Japan, as well as in Okinawa, for the removal of US troops and military bases from Okinawa, there have thus far been only partial and gradual movements in that direction.

In 1995, a decision to remove troops from Okinawa was reversed, and there was a renewed surge in the Ryukyu Independence Movement. In 2005,Chinese Lim John Chuan-tiong (林泉忠) , a University of Ryukyu associate professor executed a telephone poll of Okinawans over 18. He obtained useful replies from 1029 people. Asked whether they considered themselves Okinawan (沖縄人), Japanese (日本人), or both, the answers were 40.6, 21.3, and 36.5 respectively. When asked whether Okinawa should become independent if the Japanese government allowed (or did not allow) Okinawa to freely decide its future, 24.9% replied Okinawa should become independent with permission, and 20.5% in case of no permission from the Japanese government. Those who believed Okinawa should not declare independence were 58.7% and 57.4% respectively. [ [ Okinawa Times, January 1, 2006. The scan is from the Okinawa Independent Party website.] ] [ [ "Survey on Okinawan resident identities", From the Latest Questionnaires] ]

Kariyushi Club (かりゆしクラブ, Kariyushi Kurabu), formerly called Ryūkyū Independent Party (琉球独立党, Ryūkyū Dokuritsutō), is the local party in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, seeking an independent Ryukyu, the Republic of Ryukyu (琉球共和国, Ryūkyū Kyōwakoku). The current party leader is Chōsuke Yara (屋良朝助, Yara Chōsuke). Kariyushi is Okinawan for "happy" or "harmony with nature".

Okinawans are "Uchinanchu."..... are Ryukyu people....

In global politic, a small nation suffered....Ryukyu Kingdom is less important than The Senkaku Islands ; Qing emperor has no time for them as they are having their own internal problem, despite the Ryukyu king repeatedly asking for help. The USA never look at them, when Commodore Matthew Perry visited them. Only Japan see the potential in the kingdom, and annexed Ryukyu Kingdom into their empire, without anyone paying attention to the tiny small Ryukyu Kingdom. Ryukyu Kingdom has no strategic importance to the world, but strategic and military importance to Japanese military expansion plan..... The Ryukyuan or Lewchewan people(琉球民族, Ryūkyū minzoku),the indigenous peoples of the Ryukyu Islands become Japanese. That is the end of Ryukyu Kingdom.... .......

Related articles

1.Ryūkyū Kingdom,
2.Early History of The Ryukyu Kingdom and its Relationship with China and Japan,
3. Welcome to Ryukyu Kingdom,
4. Kariyushi Club official website, Japanese)
5. Kariyushi Club,
6. Ryūkyū independence movement,
7. Okinawa Peace Network of Los Angeles, featuring information about Ryukyuan culture worldwide;
8. Worldwide Uchinanchu Network,
9. Okinawan diaspora(2002), by Ronald Y. Nakasone, University of Hawaii Press.

No comments:

Post a Comment