Ownerless lands tallied up
The Okinawa Prefectural Government has conducting a survey on how much land on Okinawa has no known owner, because official documents showing the ownership were destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa.
Based on the investigation, the prefectural government has, as of the end of March this year, identified a total of 98.4 hectares of land on Okinawa, of which the owner is unknown. The figure includes 17.9 hectares that was identified and added to the list this year.
By region, the largest plots of land with unknown ownership are in Ie and Zamami Villages. At the same time, the owner of only one parcel of land, 138 square meters, has been identified and the land returned to the owner.
The issue of the owner-unknown land was borne due to the loss of local cadastral maps, official documents related to land ownership, mostly in fires caused by the fighting during the war. The documents had been in the custody of the prefectural government and local municipalities.
The land identification research was first conducted during the U.S. occupation era. However, at that time there were quite a few landowners who did not come forward to claim their property. It is thought that in some cases all the family members had died, or owners themselves could not identify their land due to the changes in the landscape in the fierce battle.
There are widespread areas of land, of which the owners are unknown, mainly in the middle and southern parts of the island. However, the return process has progressed hardly at all, mostly because the national government has neglected taking action regarding the problem.