Naha | Japan

Naha (那覇市 Naha-shi, Japanese: [naꜜha], Okinawan: Naafa) is the capital city of Okinawa Prefecture, the southernmost prefecture of Japan.

As of December 2012, the city has an estimated population of 321,467 and a population density of 8,244.46 persons per km². The total area is 38.99 km².

Naha is a city on the East China Sea coast of the southern part of Okinawa Island, the largest of Okinawa Prefecture. The modern city was officially founded on May 20, 1921. Before that Naha had been for centuries one of the most important and populous sites in Okinawa.

Naha is the political, economic and education center of Okinawa Prefecture. In the medieval and early modern periods, it was the commercial center of the Ryūkyū Kingdom.

In Naha, some archeological relics of the Stone Age were found. From a Jōmon period kaizuka (shell mound), ancient Chinese coins were found. Pottery found by archaeologists indicates that the area was an active site of trade with the Japanese archipelago and Korean peninsula at least as early as the 11th century. Though it is not known just when the area first became organized as a functioning port city, it was active as such by the time of the unification of the Ryūkyū Kingdom in the early 15th century.

Though today Naha has grown to incorporate the former royal capital city of Shuri, center of Chinese learning Kumemura, and other towns and villages, in the period of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, it was a smaller city, prominent as a major port, but not as a political center.

Medieval Naha was on a tiny island called Ukishima, connected to the mainland of Okinawa Island by a narrow causeway called Chōkōtei (長虹堤 lit. "long rainbow embankment") which led on to Shuri. The main port area for international trade, Naha proper, was divided into the East (東, higashi) and West (西, nishi) districts and was on the southwestern portion of Ukishima. A large open-air marketplace was active in front of the royal government trading center, or oyamise (親見世). A number of Japanese temples and shrines were located here, along with a residence and embassy, known as the Tenshikan (天使館), for visiting Chinese officials. A pair of forts (Mie gusuku and Yarazamori gusuku) built atop embankments extending out across the entrance to the harbor defended the port, and a small island within the harbor held a warehouse, Omono gusuku (御物グスク), used for storing trade goods.

Naha has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa)—bordering on Tropical rainforest (Köppen climate classification Af)—with hot summers and mild winters. Precipitation is abundant throughout the year; September is the wettest month and December is the driest. Naha has hot and humid summers with July and August being the city's warmest months, exceeding an average high of 31 degrees Celsius. Naha has warm winters, with average high temperatures in the coolest months of January and February, hovering around 19-20 degrees Celsius and average lows around 14-15 degrees Celsius. The city sees a substantial amount of rainfall, averaging in excess of 2,000 mm (79 in) of rain per year.

The oldest evidence of human existence on the Ryukyu islands is from the Stone Age and was discovered in Naha and Yaeyama. Some human bone fragments from the Paleolithic era were unearthed from a site in Naha, but the artifact was lost in transportation before it was examined to be Paleolithic or not. Japanese Jōmon influences are dominant on the Okinawa Islands, although clay vessels on the Sakishima Islands have a commonality with those in Taiwan.

The first mention of the word Ryukyu was written in the Book of Sui. Okinawa was the Japanese word identifying the islands, first seen in the biography of Jianzhen, written in 779. Agricultural societies begun in the 8th century slowly developed until the 12th century.{{Refn|Masahide Takemoto suggested in his 1972 paper that the 10th century sites he excavated was formed on the hillsides suited to agriculture, where remains of Chinese celadonware were also excavated as signs of the beginning of the Gusuku period or centralized governing system. Since the islands are located at the eastern perimeter of the East China Sea relatively close to Japan, China and South-East Asia, the Ryukyu Kingdom became a prosperous trading nation. Also during this period, many Gusukus, similar to castles, were constructed. The Ryukyu Kingdom entered into the Imperial Chinese tributary system under the Ming dynasty beginning in the 15th century, which established economic relations between the two nations.

As of December 2014, one ongoing issue is the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. First promised to be moved off the island and then later within the island, as of November 2014 the future of any relocation is uncertain with the election of base-opponent Onaga as Okinawa governor. Onaga won against the incumbent Nakaima who had earlier approved landfill work to move the base to Camp Schwab in Henoko. However, Onaga has promised to veto the landfill work needed for the new base to be built and insisted Futenma should be moved outside of Okinawa.

As of 2006, some 8,000 U.S. Marines were removed from the island and relocated to Guam. In November 2008, U.S. Pacific Command Commander Admiral Timothy Keating stated the move to Guam would probably not be completed before 2015.

The 34 US military installations on Okinawa are financially supported by the U.S. and Japan. The bases provide jobs for Okinawans, both directly and indirectly; In 2011, the U.S. military employed over 9,800 Japanese workers in Okinawa. As of 2012 the bases accounted for 4 or 5 percent of the economy. However, Koji Taira argued in 1997 that because the U.S. bases occupy around 20 percent of Okinawa's land, they impose a deadweight loss of 15 percent on the Okinawan economy. The Tokyo government also pays the prefectural government around ¥10 billion per year in compensation for the American presence, including, for instance, rent paid by the Japanese government to the Okinawans on whose land American bases are situated. A 2005 report by the U.S. Forces Japan Okinawa Area Field Office estimated that in 2003 the combined U.S. and Japanese base-related spending contributed $1.9 billion to the local economy. On January 13, 2015, In response to the citizens electing governor Takeshi Onaga, the national government announced that Okinawa's funding will be cut, due to the governor's stance on removing the US military bases from Okinawa, which the national government doesn't want happening.

The Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau is exploring the possibility of using facilities on the military bases for large-scale Meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions events.

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