U.S. Ambassador Makes 1st Visit to Japan’s Westernmost Island

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel

Yonaguni, Okinawa Pref. (Jiji Press)—U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel on Friday visited Yonaguni Island in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan’s westernmost island near Taiwan, in an apparent bid to keep China’s growing military pressure in check.

It was the first official trip to the island by a U.S. ambassador, according to the U.S. side.

Emanuel visited a lighthouse on the western tip of the island and a Ground Self-Defense Force base, and spoke with fishery workers at a port.

Speaking to reporters later, the ambassador pointed out that China continues to fish in waters near Japan despite its ban on imports of Japanese fishery products. “China’s words are hypocritical,” he said.

Asked about protests by some over his visit to the island, Emanuel responded, “In a democracy, you’re allowed to protest.”

Yonaguni Island is located some 110 kilometers east of Taiwan, making the self-ruled island visible to the naked eye on sunny days.

Emanuel also visited nearby Ishigaki Island, also in Okinawa.

At a press conference in Tokyo the same day, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said the ambassador’s visit was helpful in deepening understanding of Tokyo’s efforts to strengthen defense around the Nansei southwestern islands, including Okinawa.