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The High Commissioner


The High Commissioner inspecting Motobu-cho
This photo belongs to the Okinawa Prefectural Archives

In colonies and trusteeships, the man in charge of rule for the mainland government is generally called a High Commissioner. After World War II, Okinawa was under the rule of the United States Military Government (later renamed United States Civil Administration) until 1957, when President Eisenhower issued an executive order “Providing for Administration of the Ryukyu Islands,” to set a High Commissioner instead of the Governor and the Deputy Governor of USCAR. In the Budget Message of the preceding year, Eisenhower declared his intention to possess Okinawa indefinitely; nonetheless, Okinawa was in the midst of Shima-gurumi Tousou1 upon the forced expropriation of lands by the U.S. military, and public voices criticizing its rule were rising. Accordingly, the U.S. government positioned the High Commissioner with a higher power to replace the Governor (Far East Command, Commander-in-chief) and the Deputy Governor (Ryukyu Islands Command, Commanding General), the de facto rulers. Another reason was the reconstruction of the chain of command in the Pacifics. From July 1st, 1957, the Far East Command was integrated into the United States Pacific Command, thus ending the Governor system of USCAR.

Both the Deputy Governor and the High Commissioner were selected from a soldier on active service: the former was chosen from lower ranks and reported to the Commander-in-chief, Far East Command, while the latter directly reported to the Secretary of Defense. Furthermore, the High Commissioner was allowed to refuse a bill passed by the Legislature of the Government of the Ryukyu Islands or dismiss officials including the Chief Executive, and thus, was able to take hold of an almighty power over the islands of Ryukyu, whereas the Deputy Governor’s authority was not to this point.

Hence, during the 14 years, the High Commissioner was nominated under the approval of the President after the consultation from the Secretary of Defense to the Secretary of State, from Lt. Gen. Moore who came first to Lt. Gen. Lampert the sixth who was in a position from 1969. In 1972, when Okinawa was returned to Japan, the post was also dismissed.

Editor’s Note:

  1. Internal conflicts that occurred throughout the islands