Okinawa Islands

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This article is about the group of Okinawan island group. For other uses of the term Okinawa, please see Okinawa (disambiguation).

The Okinawa Islands (沖縄諸島 Okinawa-shotoo) comprise Okinawa Island (沖縄本島 Okinawa-hontoo) and several smaller islands, mostly uninhabited. They form part of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands (南西諸島 Nansai Shotoo 'Southwest Islands') chain; Okinawa Island is the largest. Politically, the islands are part of Okinawa prefecture (沖縄県 Okinawa-ken) and host the capital, Naha (那覇市 Naha-shi). Previously, the capital was Shuri (首里), now the site of Okinawa's reconstructed castle.

Okinawa Island was the site of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, during the U.S. invasion of Japan during World War II. The castle was destroyed by the U.S. bombardment of the island. Over 33,000 U.S. troops, plus dependents, remain on the Okinawa Islands, mostly at bases on Okinawa Island. In 2009, the U.S. agreed to relocate 8,000 troops to Guam by 2014, with the move majority-financed by Japan. This followed increasingly rocky relations with the Okinawan people, who have protested at a number of high-profile sexual offences committed by U.S. personnel.[1]

Okinawa and the other Ryukyu Islands are home to the Ryukyuan languages (琉球語 Ryuukyugo) and people (ウチナンチュ Uchinanchu, written in the Japanese script), who are a separate ethnic group within Japan. The eleven languages of this group are not mutually comprehensible with modern Japanese.[2]