University of Hawaii and Okinawa's University of the Ryukyus celebrate 20th anniversary of their sister-university relationship

UH President David McClain travels to Okinawa to celebrate the anniversary and discuss additional collaborative projects

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-8109
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Oct 14, 2008

OKINAWA, Japan — University of Hawaiʻi President David McClain is in Okinawa this week to join University of the Ryukyus President Teruo Iwamasa in celebrating a 20-year educational partnership between the two universities. The two university leaders will also discuss possibilities for new cooperative projects.

The University of the Ryukyus (UR) and the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) have partnered on a variety of initiatives during the 20-year, sister-university relationship, including joint efforts between the law and tourism schools and a robust student exchange program, all of which both universities hope to continue and expand on in the future. UH and UR will also discuss the possibility of expanding these joint efforts to include both institution‘s medical schools. UH has had a successful teaching relationship with Chubu Hospital in Okinawa for the past 41 years, and collaboration between the medical schools will help this relationship to flourish in the future.

UR has announced that it will be opening the Institute for Okinawan Studies at Ryudai in April 2009, which will consist of the Centers for Ryukyuan-Okinawan Studies, American Studies and Immigration Studies. UH will cooperate with UR on its efforts in this area through the UH Mānoa Center for Okinawan Studies, which was established in July 2008 and is the first of its kind in the United States with a specific focus on Okinawa-related issues and research interests.

Both centers hope to collaborate to bring together scholars, students and researchers from around the globe write about and discuss Okinawan language, culture, history, education and religion, as well as other important issues confronting modern Okinawa.

In addition, UH and UR have been collaborating closely on UR‘s five-year project entitled, "Human Migration and the 21st Global Society." There will be a conference at UR in November that will bring together scholars from UH and other American universities with UR scholars to discuss this project further.

While in Okinawa, McClain will also accept on behalf of UH a restored, 300+-year-old Okinawan scroll from the Okinawa Prefectural Museum for its return to the Hawley-Sakamaki Collection at UH Mānoa‘s Hamilton Library. The 5.5 meter long scroll (.35 meter wide) shows a Ryukyu Kingdom procession to Edo led by Prince Kin.


The University of the Ryukyus (Ryudai) was established in 1950 by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyus. It became a national university in 1972 when Okinawa reverted to Japanese sovereignty. Today, Ryudai is a comprehensive institution with six colleges (Law and Letters, Education, Science, Medicine, Engineering, and Agriculture), and with advanced degree programs in law, education, science, medicine, health sciences, engineering and agriculture. There are 1,700 faculty and staff, and approximately 8,000 students (7,000 undergraduate, 1,000 graduate); some 200 international students from 28 countries study at Ryudai. Ryudai is spread out over 1.3 million-square meters (campuses) and is located in a hilly area of central Okinawa.


Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawaiʻi is the state‘s sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs on 10 campuses and through educational, training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls more than 50,000 students from Hawaiʻi, the U.S. mainland, and around the world. For more information, visit