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|Governor of Okinawa Prefecture|
10 December 1990 – 9 December 1998
|Preceded by||Junji Nishime|
|Succeeded by||Keiichi Inamine|
June 12, 1925 |
|Alma mater||Hosei University|
Ota was educated at Waseda University, Tokyo, and Syracuse University, New York. He served successively as a Professor of Social Science, and Dean of the Faculty of Law and Letters in the University of the Ryūkyūs, specialising in modern and contemporary Okinawan society. He has written many books on Okinawa, of which the best known is his account of the Battle of Okinawa of 1945 as he saw it as a high school student at the time.
In March 1990 Ota retired from the university and in November of the same year was elected governor of Okinawa prefecture on a non-party platform but with broadly leftist support. He had a distinguished record as a governor, outspokenly arguing for the interests of the Okinawan people against both the United States military establishment in the Ryukyu Islands and the Japanese central government. However, after serving two four-year terms, he was defeated in a further re-election bid in 1998 by Keiichi Inamine, the candidate for the Liberal Democratic Party which dominates Japanese national politics.