50 Years On: Head of Hotel Operator Believes in Okinawa's Beauty since Youth

Economy

Naha, Okinawa Pref., April 27 (Jiji Press)--Chokei Taira, 67-year-old chairman of Kariyushi, a major tourism business group in Okinawa Prefecture, southernmost Japan, has believed since he was a university student in Tokyo that Okinawa's beautiful ocean can attract tourists.

Taira's family opened a 14-room hotel for tourists in Okinawa in 1962, 10 years before the region's return to Japan following post-World War II occupation by the United States. The tiny hotel has grown into a major tourism group in Okinawa.

Before the 1972 return of Okinawa, many of the people who visited Okinawa from the rest of Japan were those who lost their loved ones in fierce ground battles that took place in Okinawa in the final phase of the war, according to Taira.

Over 200,000 people died in the ground battles, and memorial monuments for war victims were set up in the southern part of Okinawa's main island.

What brought a spotlight to Okinawa's tourism industry was the Okinawa International Ocean Exposition in 1975, Taira said in an interview.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press