Okinawa Gov. Tamaki Meets Top Official of China’s Fujian

Andy Wong/Pool via REUTERS
Chinese Premier Li Qiang, talks to Yohei Kono, head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, and Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, July 5, 2023.

FUJIAN July 6 (Jiji Press) — Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki visited China’s Fujian Province on Thursday and met with the top official of the southern Chinese province.

Tamaki later told reporters that he and Zhou Zuyi, the Communist Party chief of Fujian, agreed to promote exchanges between the two sides.

According to the governor, Zhou referred to recent remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping about the Ryukyu Kingdom, which governed Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan, from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

In response, Tamaki said that the two sides have a great responsibility to continue exchanges.

Tamaki’s visit to China drew attention after the People’s Daily newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, reported Xi’s remarks that Fujian and Ryukyu have deep ties.

Xi worked in Fujian for a long time, which is said to have strengthened his desire to annex Taiwan, which faces Fujian across the Taiwan Strait.

Xi’s remarks are seen by some as an attempt to rattle Japan, which is becoming increasingly committed to the Taiwan issue.

After the meeting with Zhou, Tamaki said, “We had a fruitful exchange of views.” He reiterated that Xi’s remarks showed that the long history of Fujian and Ryukyu continues today.

Earlier on Thursday, Tamaki attended a luncheon hosted by the leader of Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian. They had talks on interactions between Fuzhou and its sister city of Naha, the capital of Okinawa.

Despite the chill in relations between Japan and China, Tamaki was warmly received by both the leaders of the province and the city.

The Okinawa governor also visited sites representing historic relations between Fuzhou and Ryukyu, including a cemetery for people from Ryukyu and the so-called Ryukyu pavilion, where delegates from Ryukyu once stayed.

On Monday, Tamaki arrived in Beijing as a member of a delegation from the Association for the Promotion of International Trade, a Japanese organization promoting economic relations with China.

The delegation met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Wednesday, and Tamaki explained the history of exchanges between China and Okinawa.

He will return home on Friday.