On the 1st to 2nd of September 2009 the Åland Islands Peace Institute, together with the Japan Local Government Centre (London), organized a seminar on the theme “Transforming the relationship with Central Government”, in Mariehamn, Åland. The purpose was to compare the two island regions since they show interesting similarities and differences. The invited speakers from Okinawa, Japan, and Åland, Finland, discussed issues concerning economy, peace and politics.
The comparison focuses on the self-governing, demilitarized Åland region and the Ryukyu islands southwest of the Japanese mainland in the Pacific Ocean. The islands with 1,4 million inhabitants are a popular tourist resort and have a language and culture distinct from the mainland. The U.S. military presence in Okinawa after World War 2 has had great impact on Okinawa’s social, economic, and cultural development. For the self-sustaining development of Okinawa, Okinawa is setting up a centre for IT industry accumulation and an institute of science and technology. Okinawa has a special free trade zone since 1999 to promote industry and trade.
Download the seminar programme here
The organisers have written a report from the event, that can be downloaded here.