Department of African American & African Studies
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, United States
This panel examines the problem of global militarism and the history of people's resistance to it in Okinawa through the transpacific framework. Our objective is to reconsider militarization as a far-reaching historical process. We also posit that the reach of militarization is global; it transcends borders to connect and divide various regions and people living through and struggling against this dynamic process. Racism, sexism, and capitalism are deeply intertwined within these processes. These interlocking global systems of oppression transform social, cultural and economic relationships that legitimize a society organized by the forces of terror and violence, all the while fermenting resistance that moves in scale larger than nation-states. Okinawa’s history, from feudal to modern times, is quite specific. For one, the Ryukyu Kingdom had to contend with such powerful states as China, Japan, and the United States. In the post-1945 period, amid worldwide decolonization, Okinawa came to be tethered to the global military network. The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty separated Okinawa and other southern islands from mainland Japan and placed these territories under the U.S. occupation authority. The United States carried out land expropriations to build the bases throughout the 1950s. Today, nearly a half-century after the U.S. occupation “ended” in 1972, the basic structure of military occupation remains intact. The United States and Japan continue to ignore the strong appeals of Okinawan people for demilitarization Each panelist will unpack the dialectics of militarization and demilitarization in Okinawa through historical studies to engage in a transpacific inquiry. Wendy Matsumura links 1930s struggles by Okinawan women against the development of Naha port for empire to similar struggles that erupted in the 1950s under U.S. occupation. Naomi Okamoto details the Ie-Shima people’s struggles against land seizures for the U.S. military bases in 1950s Okinawa. Mitsuaki Ono examines the transpacific networking of anti-Vietnam War movements of the United States, Japan, Okinawa, and GIs stationed in Okinawa. Yuichiro Onishi turns to the hip hop music of DUTY FREE SHOPP and Kakumakushaka, popular in the early 2000s, as a case study in the cultural politics of contemporary struggles against militarism.