15. Okinawa and Postwar Japan

1. A brief overview of the history of Okinawa

  1. The Ryukyu Kingdom – Okinawa was the site of an independent kingdom during the medieval period, gradually taken over by Japan in the Edo period and finally absorbed by Japan after the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

  2. Okinawa was transformed into a Japanese prefecture in 1879. A policy of assimilation was enforced, seeking to make the Okinawa people into good Japanese citizens by changing clothing, hairstyle, tattoo practices, religious practices, food culture, and language.

  3. The Battle of Okinawa – 82 day battle lasting from April 1, 1945 into the middle of June. The battle resulted in mass casualties; an estimated 150,000 Okinawan civilians were killed in the battle, many caught between Japanese and American fighting forces.

  4. The Cornerstone of Peace – memorial for all those who died in the Battle of Okinawa

  5. Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum – compare with some of the museums you have visited in Tokyo

  6. Emperor Hirohito, Okinawa, and the concept of “Residual Sovereignty” – what some secret documents revealed in 1979.

  7. Reversion of Okinawa to Japan: 1972 Did that mean that the American military reduced its presence in Okinawa? Were bases returned? What about nuclear weapons?

  8. The anti-base movement and demands for independence. The Unofficial Constitution of the Republic of Okinawa

  9. Chibana Shoichi and his decision to burn the Japanese flag in 1987. Read a New York Times article on his anti-patriotic deed.

  10. Okinawa and Japan in the twenty-first century: what are the issues?