Flag of Japan Emblem of Okinawa

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Preserved Minami Daito sugar cane railway locomotive
A steam locomotive of the Minami Daito sugar cane railway preserved in Yogi Park, Naha

The first railway in the prefecture of Okinawa, and one of the last to remain in operation, was on the remote Pacific island of Minami Daito. The Daito islands were uninhabited until 1899, when Japanese settlers began to develop Minami Daito for sugar cane production. A railway was opened in 1902 for the transport of cane, initially using hand propelled wagons. Around 1917 it was converted to steam haulage, using a gauge of 762mm. The line was almost entirely destroyed during World War II but reopened in 1950 under United States administration. During this period diesel locomotives were introduced. The line remained operational after the islands were returned to Japan in 1972, but closed in 1983. Steam and diesel locomotives and some rolling stock from the island railway are preserved on static display in Yogi Park, Naha, along with a diesel locomotive belonging to the Okinawa Prefectural Railway, which operated out of Yonabaru at the southern tip of Okinawa island.

On the main island of Okinawa, the first sugar cane line opened in 1910. The same year, an electric tram line opened in the city of Shuri, now part of the prefectural capital, Naha. Other lines opened in subsequent years, mainly hand propelled or with horse traction. On other islands minor railways served the sugar cane, phosphate extraction and in one instance coal mining industries. All these lines had ceased operation by the end of World War II.

In 2003, a 13km monorail was opened in Naha connecting the airport with Shuri castle via the city centre.

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