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Demonstrations in China start unnerving Okinawans

Date Posted: 2005-04-23

So far the anti-Japanese demonstration sweeping cities in China have not hurt any of Okinawans living in China, but they certainly have made many very nervous.

“It is awful. We don’t go out if we can avoid it,” an Okinawan businessman living in Shanghai said in a telephone interview.

Many Okinawan have begun to send their families back home, and companies that have offices in China are considering changing their names to sound more Chinese.

Masao Toguchi of Okinawa Prefecture Office in Shanghai said that he has never been so afraid in his life. “There’s no way we can go out. Every time I go I get the feeling that the mobs may kill us,” Toguchi said.

Misato Kogyo President Kenzo Higa said that his company has three Okinawan workers in their Shanghai Office and he is worried about them. “Although we have our office open, I am afraid to answer the telephone for fear of bad news. I am very worried,” Higa said.

The demonstrations have prompted the cancellation of many tours. Some Okinawans who recently returned from a tour to China said that they tried to explain to Chinese that they are not Japanese but Okinawans and that’s different. “Hearing that they (the Chinese) did not bother with us, but that really hurt,” one female traveler at Naha Airport said.

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