European Union Ambassador to Japan Patricia Flor visited Okinawa Prefecture from 20-22 January to exchange views with local leaders, enhance her understanding of the prefecture and explore opportunities for further cooperation between the EU and Japan. She has already made similar visits to the prefectures of Hokkaido, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki since assuming her post in the autumn of 2018.
During her visit, which was her first to Japan's southernmost prefecture, Ambassador Flor met with Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki as well as Naha Mayor Mikiko Shiroma and Nago Mayor Taketoyo Toguchi. She also exchanged views with local business representatives.
The Ambassador gave a lecture on the EU and EU-Japan relations at the University of the Ryukyus, and visited the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University where she met with President Peter Gruss and learned first-hand about the collaboration between Japanese and European researchers.
At all her meetings, the Ambassador discussed Okinawa's potential in various sectors, notably in the areas of tourism and culture.
She visited Shuri Castle and saw the devastation caused by the October 2019 fire, and learned in detail of the local efforts to restore the World Heritage site. The Ambassador also travelled to Itoman, where she paid her respects to the war dead at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum. She also visited an awamori distillery, given that 'Ryukyu' awamori is a Geographical Indication recognised by the Japanese government and the importance that the EU places on protecting GIs, as seen in their inclusion in the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement that entered into force in February 2019.