JPRI BOARD MEMBER MASAHIDE OTA TO RETIRE FROM DIET

On December 10, 2006, the Mainichi Shimbun announced that former Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota, who is currently a member of the House of Councillors representing the Social Democratic Party (Shaminto), would not run in next summer's election for the upper house. According to the newspaper, "President Mizuho Fukushima and her predecessor, Takako Doi, told Ota on December 1 that the SDP would not put him on its list of candidates for proportional representation because he is too old." Ota is 81, and is expected to retire from politics.

Masahide Ota, who is a member of the board of advisers of JPRI, studied after the war at Waseda University and as a Fulbright scholar in the U.S. at Syracuse University. He was a professor and then Dean of Law and Literature at the University of the Ryukyus. Ota is the author of several important books about Okinawan history. His article "Re-examining the History of the Battle of Okinawa" is included in JPRI's 1999 book, Okinawa: Cold War Island . Immediately following his retirement from the university, Ota was elected Governor of Okinawa prefecture in 1990 and served two terms, until 1998. He strongly opposed the seemingly indefinite occupation of his island by U.S. troops, and in 1995 he refused to sign a document granting the Japanese government the right to continue leasing land for U.S. military bases. In 1998, he again fought against the government's proposal to relocate Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to another site within Okinawa Prefecture. He favored moving Futenma entirely outside of Japan. In 2001, Ota was elected to the House of Councillors, where he continued his efforts to alleviate Okinawa's base-hosting burden.

We, at JPRI, are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Governor Ota. We wish him a peaceful and productive retirement, and we applaud his devotion to the people of Okinawa.