TOKYO - An 80-year-old man from Okinawa Prefecture who settled in Tokyo still has two passports he obtained while Okinawa was under U.S. control: a Japan Travel Document issued when he moved to Tokyo and an identification certificate created after he moved to Tokyo in order to visit his hometown.
In 1972, until Okinawa reverted to Japan, travel between Okinawa and the mainland was restricted and controlled by the United States. The Japan Travel Document for traveling from Okinawa to Japan was issued by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands, the U.S. governing body that ruled Okinawa.
The travel document was used the same way as a passport. Kazuo Tamaki'sTamaki's document stated his registered domicile as Okinawa Prefecture, but he was described as a Ryukyuan resident rather than a Japanese national, and the purpose of his trip was to study abroad, not to enter a university.
On the other hand, the identification certificate issued by the Japanese government stated that he was a Japanese national and certified that he was traveling to Okinawa. The stamps for entry to and exit from the mainland were marked certifying return to Japan and certifying departure from Japan, respectively, indicating that travel to and from Okinawa was subject to the same procedures as those for foreign countries.
At the time, permission from the U.S. Civil Administration was required for mainland residents to travel to Okinawa, even if they were originally from Okinawa, and permission was sometimes denied to those who criticized the U.S. rule of Okinawa or were involved in the movement to return Okinawa to Japan.
From 1963 to the summer of 1967, 144 cases of travel were denied from mainland Japan to Okinawa and about 40 cases of travel from Okinawa to the mainland were denied. Masao Miyagi, the late president of the Hyogo prefectural headquarters of the association of people from Okinawa Prefecture, was among those who were turned down. Miyagi was reported to have applied many times to go from Hyogo to Okinawa to search for the remains of his mother, who was killed during World War II in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, but was not granted permission during the period of U.S. control. He died at the age of 94 in May 2021.
Tamaki, who is now a resident of Tokyo's Setagaya Ward, graduated from the University of Tokyo and joined the then Prime Minister's Office, now the Cabinet Office. He served as the director general of the general affairs bureau of the now-defunct Okinawa Development Agency. He has kept a close eye on Okinawa in both his public and private life.
Looking at his old travel documents, Tamaki reflected, Even though people know the sorrow of the division of the Korean Peninsula and countries like Germany, I wonder how many Japanese feel the sadness of the similar division that occurred in Japan.
There is a gap between the people of Okinawa and those on the mainland. He said it was similar to the issue of the relocation of the U.S. military bases.