Ryukyu/Okinawa’s trajectory: from periphery to centre, 1600–2015

Authored by: Gavan McCormack

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter is a survey of the four centuries of Okinawa/Ryukyu’s often tragic past, tracing its incorporation into the Japanese state by coercion. It analyzes the discriminatory policies towards Okinawa by the Japanese state, including in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and the subsequent period of direct U.S. military administration. Although the islands were returned to Japan in 1972, the structure of American military bases was left intact and remains a symbol of discrimination today, as shown by the forced imposition of the Henoko Base project. From this unique historical background has emerged a significant movement in Okinawa to substitute civil, democratic, peace-oriented priorities for military and foreign base dependence.

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