United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands

United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands
(Ryūkyū-rettō Beikoku Min Seifu)
Military Occupation
Red, white and blue flag with 48 stars of the United States of America
Flag Coat of arms
Location of the Ryukyu Islands (shaded red)
in the East China Sea.
Capital Okinawa
Languages Japanese
Government Presidential Republic
U.S. President
   19501953 Harry S. Truman (first)
  19691972 Richard Nixon (last)
  December 1950April 1951 General Douglas MacArthur (first)
  June 1955June 1957 General Lyman Lemnitzer (last)
High Commissioner
  July 1957April 1958 LTG James Edward Moore (first)
  January 1968May 1972 LTG James Benjamin Lampert (last)
Historical era Cold War
  Battle of Okinawa April 1 June 21, 1945
   Founding of USCAR December 15, 1950
   Returned to Japan May 15, 1972
Currency B yen (July 1948Sep 1958)
U.S. dollar (19581972)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
United States Military Government of the Ryukyu Islands

The United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (琉球列島米国民政府 Ryūkyū-rettō Beikoku Min Seifu), or "USCAR", was the government in Okinawa, Japan, after World War II from 1950 until 1972.


The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration describes USCAR's history thus:[1]

Following signing of the Instrument of Surrender, September 2, 1945, Ryukyu Islands were administered by Department of the Navy, September 21, 1945-June 30, 1946, with Commanding Officer, Naval Operating Base, Okinawa functioning as chief military government officer under authority of Commander-in-Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet. Transfer of administration from Department of the Navy to War Department authorized by Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) approval, April 1, 1946, of JCS 819/11, March 5, 1946, with added proviso of JCS 819/12, March 22, 1946. Pursuant to implementing instructions of General Headquarters U.S. Army Forces in the Pacific (GHQ AFPAC), Okinawa Base Command redesignated Ryukyus Command, effective July 1, 1946, by General Order 162, Headquarters U.S. Army Forces, Western Pacific, and made responsible for administration under a Deputy Commander for Military Government. Ryukyu Islands administered successively by Ryukyus Command, July 1-November 30, 1946; Philippines-Ryukyus Command, December 1, 1946-July 31, 1948; and Ryukyuan Command, August 1, 1948-December 15, 1950. USCAR established, effective December 15, 1950, by a directive of Headquarters Far East Command (HQ FEC, formerly GHQ AFPAC), AG 091.1 (5 Dec 50) RCA, December 5, 1950, implementing a JCS memorandum, SM 2474-50, October 11, 1950, directing Commander-in-Chief Far East, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, to organize a civil administration for the Ryukyu Islands in accordance with JCS 1231/14, October 4, 1950. USCAR continued to function under Department of the Army (formerly War Department), 1950-71. Amami Island Group of Ryukyu Islands was returned to Japan by the Agreement between the United States of America and Japan concerning the Amami Islands, signed December 24, 1953, and made effective December 25, 1953. USCAR abolished following entrance into force, May 15, 1972, of the Agreement between the United States of America and Japan concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands, signed June 17, 1971, by which the remaining island groups of the Ryukyu Islands, including the Okinawa Island Group, were returned to Japan.

After the Battle of Okinawa in World War II, the United States Navy initially administered the Okinawa group while the other three groups came under Army control. On July 18, 1945 the Navy transferred control to U.S. Army Forces in the Pacific (AFPAC), but on September 21 assumed control again, organizing the United States Military Government of the Ryukyu Islands.[2] Finally on July 1, 1946, the Army took control again, organising the Ryukyu Command from the previous Okinawa Base Command. On January 1, 1947 AFPAC was reorganised as Far East Command and a unified Ryukyu Command, including a military government apparatus, was placed under General Headquarters, Far East Command (GHQ FECOM), in Tokyo.

In 1952, Japan signed the Treaty of San Francisco and admitted the control of Okinawa by the U.S. government.[3] USCAR, which was a subordinate organization of the forces of the United States, surveilled the Ryukyuan Government and could overrule all the decisions made by the Ryukyuan Government.

The official currency was the B yen from 1948–1958, when the B yen was abolished and the US dollar was brought into use.[4] The government printed Ryukyuan postage stamps and passports. Cars drove on the right in contrast to the main islands of Japan. The island switched to driving on the left in 1978 to bring it in line with Japan.

Peace treaty specifications

The Logo of United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands, abolished May 15, 1972

Two important articles of the post-war peace treaty of April 28, 1952 are the following:

Article 3: Japan will concur in any proposal of the United States to the United Nations to place under its trusteeship system, with the United States as the sole administering authority, Nansei Shoto south of 29 degrees north latitude (including the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands), Nanpo Shoto south of Sofu Gan (including the Bonin Islands, Rosario Island and the Volcano Islands) and Parece Vela and Marcus Island. Pending the making of such a proposal and affirmative action thereon, the United States will have the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of these islands, including their territorial waters.

Article 4b: Japan recognizes the validity of dispositions of property of Japan and Japanese nationals made by or pursuant to directives of the United States Military Government in any of the areas referred to in Articles 2 and 3.

After a formal agreement reached on June 17, 1971, control of Okinawa was given back to Japan on May 15, 1972,[5] and USCAR was abolished. This completed the disposition of this Japanese property by USMG.

Government system

The post of Governor (民政長官 Minsei Chōkan) was created in 1950 and replaced in 1957 by the High Commissioner of the Ryukyu Islands (琉球列島高等弁務官 Ryūkyū-rettō Kōtō-benmukan) until 1972.


Name Period
GEN Douglas MacArthur December 15, 1950 April 11, 1951
GEN Matthew Ridgway April 11, 1951 May 12, 1952
GEN Mark W. Clark May 12, 1952 October 7, 1953
GEN John E. Hull October 7, 1953 April 1, 1955
GEN Maxwell D. Taylor April 1, 1955 June 5, 1955
GEN Lyman Lemnitzer June 5, 1955 June 30, 1957

High Commissioners[6]

Name Period
LTG James Edward Moore July 4, 1957 April 30, 1958
LTG Donald Prentice Booth May 1, 1958 February 12, 1961
LTG Paul Caraway February 16, 1961 July 31, 1964
LTG Albert Watson II August 1, 1964 October 31, 1966
LTG Ferdinand Thomas Unger November 2, 1966 January 28, 1968
LTG James Benjamin Lampert January 28, 1968 May 14, 1972


Civil ensign of Ryukyu.

The Criminal Code of Ryukyu restricted the flying of any national flags except the flag of the United States.[7] The protesters against the Ryukyu government flew the Hinomaru, the flag of Japan. Civil ships of Ryukyu flew an ensign derived from International maritime signal flag "D" instead of Japanese or American ensigns. The D ensign was not well known internationally, so the Ryukyuan ships were sometimes seized. The ensign changed to "Hinomaru below a triangular flag labeled "Ryukyu" and "琉球" (Japanese for "Ryukyu") in 1967.[8][9]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands.


  1. "Records of U.S. Occupation Headquarters, World War II". National Archives. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. 1995. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 260.12 Records of the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR) 1945-72
  2. Eiji Takemae, The Allied Occupation of Japan, p.123
  3. Shimamoto, Mayako; Ito, Koji; Sugita, Yoneyuki (2015). Historical Dictionary of Japanese Foreign Policy. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 22. ISBN 9781442250673. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  4. Ikeo, Aiko (2014). A History of Economic Science in Japan: The Internationalization of Economics in the Twentieth Century. Routledge. p. 227. ISBN 9781317747536. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  5. "Agreement between the United States of America and Japan Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and Daito Islands". United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, Volume 23, Part 1. US Department of State. 23: 449. 1973. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  6. 1 2 "Okinawa and Ryukyu Islands". worldstatesmen.org. B. Cahoon. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  7. "琉球刑法並びに訴訟手続法典(一九五五年) Criminal code of Ryukyu 1955" (in Japanese). Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  8. "沖繩船舶旗問題(昭和42年 わが外交の近況) Okinawa Ships issue (Our diplomacy 1967)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  9. "那覇 泊港?那覇港? 全琉船舶に新船舶旗掲揚 1967年7月1日 All Ryukyuan ships hold new civil ensign at Tomari port or Naha port in Naha, July 1, 1967" (in Japanese). Retrieved 8 December 2007.
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