Mr. Hiroaki Yoza President of Argentina Friends Association of Okinawa
Mr. Hiroaki Yoza
I am the Argentina Friends Association of Okinawa President, Hiroaki Yoza. Nice to meet you
Argentina is the furthest country away from Japan. South America is exactly on the opposite side of the world from Okinawa, that’s where Argentina is. Going by the distance on earth its self it is far away, but within Argentina there are tens of thousands of Uchinanchu. It is said that, of those of Japanese ancestry about 70 to 75 percent are of Uchinanchu decent. As well, in many ways Okinawan culture has taken root in Argentina, for example Karate, or Ryukyu-Buyo Dance, as well as classical Ryukyuan music.
Argentina as I’m sure that you know, is called the Paris of South America, it has a very high level of cultural sense. In Argentina the majority of Uchinanchu are of 3rd and 4th generation. The current Okinawa Association president is of 3rd generation, with that, Our Uchinanchu brethren are being extremely active in many different directions. That is the current situation in Argentina,
In a place that is not too far away from the center of Argentina’s capital Buenos Aries, in the corner of San Juan Street and Jujuy Street, is the building of the “Centro Okinawense en la Argentina”. This is the largest group among those of Japanese descent in Argentina with the biggest association building. At this building, with a focus on Okinawa, those of Japanese descent, as well as the locals, can experience Okinawan Dance and culture, as well as different events with other Okinawa Associations. In the suburbs there is also an exercise ground, called Uruma-en, there on the weekends those of Uchinanchu decent gather, and the young people play football, and swim in the summer, Those who are old play gate ball , as well as do Argentina-style barbeque called Asado. With the exercise ground and at the association building, we are working hard to make a true Uchinanchu community.
A Message to the Youth
The programs that Okinawa prefecture puts on, such as the Okinawan Emigrants' Descendent and Asian Scholarship Program as well as the World Wide Uchinanchu Festival and The Uchinanchu Junior study, the Kaiho Yoshu Network Building Program, these sorts of initiatives are those that I truly value and thank from the bottom of my heart. These sorts of programs are not just limited to Argentina, using them, all those in the overseas Uchinanchu society can learn about Okinawa, and can strengthen their own Uchinanchu Identity, and feel a greater sense of duty to aid in the succession of their culture.
At the grass roots level, for example as I am from Argentina, with the effective working at the grass roots level with the young people of Okinawa, and the young people of Argentina to further engage in exchange, the Uchinanchu network that spreads across the world has gained a deeper meaning, and we as the Okinawa Argentina Friendship Association have realized the further value of our organization. As such, we are working hard to put all out energy into further forming the Uchinanchu network.