Amami Oshima Island is in Kagoshima Prefecture.
Amami Oshima Island is located between Kagoshima City and the main island of Okinawa, closer to Okinawa, and belongs to the Amami Archipelago, which consists of eight islands.
The Amami Oshima Islands are located at 20 degrees north latitude and consist of eight inhabited islands: Amami Oshima, Kakeroma Island, Yorojima, Kikaijima, Tokunoshima, Okinoerabu Island, and Yoron Island.
Among them, Amami Oshima is the largest island in the Amami Archipelago and has its own unique culture, influenced by both the mainland and Okinawa.
With an area of 712.39 square kilometers, it is larger than the 23 wards of Tokyo and Lake Biwa, and it takes about two hours by car from the northern to the southern part of the island.
The northern part of the island is flat and covered with farmland, where sugarcane is actively cultivated.
The southern part is mostly mountainous. The island is home to many endemic species and is full of the charms of Amami Oshima.
The island is characterized by its unique island songs, brown sugar shochu, Oshima tsumugi (silk pongee), and other distinctive cultural features.
Population of Amami Oshima
The population of Amami Oshima is about 60,000.
The population of the Amami Islands as a whole is approximately 120,000, indicating that many people live on Amami Oshima.
However, the population is declining, and it is said that the population of the entire Amami Islands will fall below 100,000 in the near future. Putting a stop to this has become an urgent topic of discussion.
History of Amami Oshima
Why did Amami Oshima become Kagoshima Prefecture? Let us look at the reason from the history of Amami Oshima.
Amami Oshima Island, caught between Yamato/Edo and Ryukyu
The history of Amami Oshima Island dates back to the Heian Period.
It is said that Taira Arimori of the Heike clan, who was defeated by the Minamoto clan in the Battle of Dannoura in 1185 at the end of the Heian Period, drifted to Amami Oshima and built castles on Amami Oshima and neighboring islands, and there is a shrine dedicated to him on the island.
Later, however, the Ryukyu Kingdom took over Amami Oshima, replacing the Heike clan. The Ryukyu Kingdom used force and ruled the islands of Okinawa, and after several rebellions, including Amami Oshima and the surrounding islands, Amami Oshima became a part of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
However, the Ryukyu Kingdom's rule did not last long, and in the Edo period (1603-1867), the Satsuma clan (present Kagoshima Prefecture) invaded and began to rule Amami Oshima.
At first, it is said that the Satsuma Clan suffered the islanders because of their discriminatory rule, but the situation changed when the Edo Shogunate disappeared and Saigo Takamori came to Amami-Oshima.
Saigo started a movement to help the islanders who were suffering from the collection of brown sugar by the Satsuma clan in Touji, and he brought a lot of culture to the island that had not existed in Touji, such as teaching study to the island's boys.
It is said that Saigo's presence on Amami Oshima was the catalyst for the islanders to become aware that their island was part of Kagoshima Prefecture.
Amami Oshima Island called "Northan Ryukyu
During the Pacific War, U.S. forces landed on the main island of Okinawa and a ground war was waged.
On the other hand, although Amami Oshima and the surrounding islands were bombed, the U.S. forces never landed on the islands until the end of the war.
After the war, the U.S. military ruled not only Okinawa but also the Ogasawara Islands and the Amami Islands below 30 degrees north latitude.
The name given to Amami Oshima at that time was Northan Ryukyu, and it was treated as part of the Ryukyu Islands.
The U.S. military at that time had the goal of making the Southern Ryukyu Islands and the Northern Ryukyu Islands completely independent from Japan.
However, the people of Amami Oshima refused to accept this and wanted their island to be Amami Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture, not Ryukyu.
With this strong desire, the U.S. military finally decided to treat and govern the Amami Islands as the "Amami Islands of Kagoshima Prefecture".
Voices for returning to one homeland after another
While the main island of Okinawa, scorched by the Battle of Okinawa, was actively rebuilding its towns and regaining its liveliness, Amami Oshima lived as if it had been deprived of its freedom because the U.S. military controlled the administration.
This led to a growing movement among the islanders to return to Kagoshima Prefecture, and to return to their homeland. Thanks to the efforts of the people of the Amami Islands, on August 8, 1953, U.S. Secretary of State Dulles issued a statement "renouncing any rights it may have with respect to the Amami Islands," and with this statement the Amami Islands were restored to Japan on December 25, 1953, a long-sought goal.
In this issue, we looked back at the history of Amami Oshima and unraveled what kind of prefecture Amami Oshima is.
To my surprise, Amami Oshima Island was not Kagoshima Prefecture from the beginning, but became Kagoshima Prefecture through various difficulties before and after the war.
I would like many people to experience the charm of Amami Oshima, which has carved out a lot of history and continues to this day.