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Okinawa History, Japan

Okinawa History and its significant events started much later compared to the history of other islands in the Pacific Ocean. Although located at the center of civilization, the social unit of Okinawa never rose above those of other small islands. In fact, they were completely isolated from huge political movements that could have been found in other places, such as Taipei or Tokyo.

Okinawa History – The 12th -15th Century

The significant bits of Okinawa History did not start until the 12th century. At this time, local seigniors known as Aji started battling wars at a stone fortress called Gusuku.

During this time, Okinawa was very prosperous. The island became the main exchange route between North China and Japan and the entire South East Asia. A huge quantity of sulfur was transported for the Chinese to make explosives.

However, such prosperity hardly lasted very long. By the 14th century, only three Ajis were left on the island of Okinawa and this became known as the period of three kingdoms.

By 1429, the Sho Dynasty, which held the most control over Okinawa, unified the entire island.

Okinawa History – The 16th – 17th Century

By the time the 16th century finally rolled in, Westerners began to invade the peace that could be found in Okinawa. They appeared on large ships and started to sell products that seemed to be far more interesting than canons and guns in the eyes of the Okinawa residents.

A century later, the Korean campaign and the very long civil war hardened the hearts of the residents of Okinawa, making them more than an easy prey against Japanese samurais. In 1609, the musketeers from the Aji Shimazu arrived from Kyushu and within a paltry three days of battle, Okinawa surrendered.

Even though the occupation of the Shimazu may have taken away some of the freedom in Okinawa, they actually turned it into a more organized island, in regards to social life by getting rid of old superstitions and sorcery that the residents of Okinawa still believed in. Residents were also educated and ultimately cultivated, in order to be more competitive against the residents of Shimazu.

Okinawa History – The 19th Century

In the 19th century, the Tokugawa held reign in Okinawa. By 1853, the Americans decided to modify the politics of Okinawa and sent four warships over in search for a naval base and commercial outlets. The threat of American canons made Okinawa surrender and opened four harbors for the Americans while signing a treaty with the worldly powers at that time.

Okinawa History – The Second World War

Ever since 1920, Okinawa has been governed by other Japanese prefectures. But the biggest problem was still to arrive: World War II. Americans came to Okinawa on the 26th of March, 1945, to make a logistic base and Okinawa surrendered almost immediately. Soon, American army troops were located on the southern part of Okinawa.

Despite the notorious suicidal pilots known as Kamikaze, Okinawa still had no supply lines and had to completely surrender on the 23rd of June, 1945. This turned out to be a major disaster in Okinawa History, with 90,000 Japanese soldiers and 150,000 civilians dead.

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