- Series: Asia/Pacific/Perspectives
- Hardcover: 312 pages
- Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (July 20, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1442215623
- ISBN-13: 978-1442215627
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,939,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States (Asia/Pacific/Perspectives)
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In recent years, the main source of friction in the U.S.–Japanese defense relationship has been local opposition to the basing of U.S. marines on the Japanese island of Okinawa. . . . McCormack and Norimatsu lay bare the resentment’s deeper historical roots. . . . The larger frame for McCormack and Norimatsu’s analysis is their sharply worded indictment of the U.S.–Japanese relationship, which they believe is constructed not so much to defend Japan as to serve a U.S. forward deployment strategy aimed at Southeast Asia and China.
(Andrew J. Nathan, Columbia University Foreign Affairs)
McCormack and Norimatsu provide the first comprehensive overview of Okinawan history from earliest times to the present. They devote most attention to Okinawa's relationship with Japan since the 19th century, its terrible fate in WW II, and its status as the keystone of the US military presence in East Asia and the main source of friction in the US-Japan defense relationship. The authors show that Okinawan resistance to the basing of US Marines there is not of recent origin but has deep historical roots in Okinawans' view of themselves as an ethnic minority historically separate from the Japanese and in their belief that Tokyo treats them as second-class citizens, sacrificing their interests to Japan's relationship with the US. Basing their work on a wide range of sources and interviews, including WikiLeaks documents, the authors frame their analysis in a harshly worded indictment of the bilateral US-Japan relationship, which they claim is designed to serve US geopolitical strategy in Asia rather than to defend Japan and forces Tokyo to take a subservient role. For those interested in Okinawa and Okinawa's relationship with mainland Japan and for a different perspective on US-Japan relations. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. (CHOICE)
The U.S. bases in Okinawa continue to be an irritant in bilateral relations. This book shifts our focus from Tokyo and Washington to the perceptions and grievances of Okinawans and why they oppose the U.S. presence. The authors help readers understand a grassroots democratic movement challenging the garrison island status quo. (Japan Times)
Resistant Islands draws a wide picture around the efforts by the people of the Okinawa island chain, Japan's southernmost prefecture, to throw off the enormous US military presence lodged on their limited land area since the horrific battles of early 1945, when a quarter of the Okinawan population died as drafted civilian pawns in the defense. (Interpreter)
Resistant Islandsoffers unique perspectives on the island’s tragic history and current plight. (Asian Studies Review)
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary U.S.-Japan relations. It draws on public statements and 'confidential' communications by officials of both governments . . . They reveal, in graphic detail and colorful language, the unrelieved condescension of U.S. officials and the shameless subservience of their Japanese counterparts in this decidedly '[un]equal partnership.' The messages include 'secret accords' to maintain extraterritorial status for U.S. forces in Japan and to perpetuate the disproportionate U.S. military presence in Okinawa with the option to introduce nuclear weapons even after its reversion to Japanese administration in 1972. . . .The most moving portions of this book are the personal statements by individuals who have resisted U.S. and Japanese oppression through their public protests, their writings, and their policies as elected officials. (Journal of Japanese Studies)
Deeply informed and rich in insight, this study brings to light the conquest of the peaceful and prosperous territory of Okinawa, its brutal integration into the nation-state/imperial system of East Asia, and after the murderous slaughter of World War II its conversion to a U.S. military base under the administration of America’s Japanese client state. And finally the courageous resistance of a proud people determined to regain what has been lost in centuries of oppression, and to lead the way to an Asian community of justice and hope. It is a tale of horror and inspiration, with lessons of large and enduring significance. (Noam Chomsky, MIT)
You may pick up this book because you think you ought to read an "Okinawan-centered" view of modern Japanese history, but you will find yourself riveted and wanting to recommend it to friends with no particular ties to Japan or Okinawa. The peculiar and noxious US-Japan dance designed to defer, preferably forever, respect for sovereignty, constitutionality, and democracy, in Japan as a whole and in Okinawa especially, makes for sober reading for citizens of the United States and the world. The outlines may be familiar to those who’ve had US interests reign paramount in their own societies, but the painstakingly researched details will find all readers catching their breath. The whole is written with the graceful clarity of principled commitment. The penultimate chapter, devoted to transmitting the voices of Okinawan activists spanning several generations, an enactment of such principle, is a gift to all readers. (Norma Field, University of Chicago)
Resistant Islands is a tour de force—not only a stunning introduction to the resilience and vision of the people of Okinawa but also a devastating critique of official Tokyo’s obsequiousness to dictates emanating from Washington. (John Dower, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
The Okinawa problem is a key pivot of modern Japan. It condenses the internal tensions between East Asia and the West, between war and peace; within it the most basic contradictions of the contemporary world are concentrated. This book possesses keen and spirited insight, revealing that these deep contradictions belong to Okinawa and to human kind. (Sun Ge, Chinese Academy of Social Science, Beijing)
Why, despite the end of the Cold War and the end of Liberal Democratic Party predominant party rule, does Okinawa still host 75 percent of US military installations in a prefecture making up no more than 0.6 percent of the land mass of the Japanese archipelago? Placing the base issue in the historical context of Japan's incorporation of the Ryukyu Islands into the Japanese state in the 1870s and the 'smoke and mirrors' reversion of Okinawa from US control to formal Japanese sovereignty in 1972, Gavan McCormack and Satoko Oka Norimatsu offer a trenchant analysis of the fate of the islands as a military outpost of the American eagle. With chapters on the current battle over the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko in the face of local resistance, along with a penetrating analysis of the alliance under Prime Ministers Hatoyama and Kan, this book should be read by everyone interested in understanding the true nature of the US-Japan alliance from the perspective of the inhabitants of Okinawa.
(Glenn D. Hook, University of Sheffield)
Essential reading for all those interested in Pacific politics, even if they do not share the authors' passionate sympathy for the underdog. Apart from the book's readability, its historical depth and accuracy explains why the possibility that the Okinawan public might opt for Chinese rather than Japanese sovereignty—which is already agitating Japan's right-wing—will play a crucial role in the coming US-Chinese Cold War. The Japanese government is caught between a rock and a hard place. The hard place is Okinawa, but the rock, the deep military alliance with the United States, is of the Japanese governmental elite's own choosing. (Ronald Dore, Grizzana, Italy)
About the Author
Gavan McCormack is emeritus professor at the Australian National University and author of a number of studies of modern and contemporary East Asia, including Client State: Japan in the American Embrace (2007), which was also translated and published in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, Target North Korea: Pushing North Korea to the Brink of Nuclear Catastrophe (2004), and The Emptiness of Japanese Affluence (1996).
Satoko Oka Norimatsu is director of Peace Philosophy Centre (est. 2006), a peace education organization that engages world citizens in learning and acting to create a fair and sustainable world, and provides key information through the Centre's widely-read website (www.peacephilosophy.com) on issues such as the military occupation of Okinawa, the history and memory of World War II, and abolition of nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
The authors are coordinators of the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (www.japanfocus.org), which in 2008 was awarded the Inaugural Ikemiyagi Shui Prize by the Okinawan daily Ryukyu Shimpo for the dissemination of Okinawan issues to the world.
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Top customer reviews
I only give the book one star because of the very bias presentaion.
Book mentions thousands of crimes committed by military personnel over several decades. Overwhelming number of them are traffic offenses (parking/speeding tickets)? If the data was broken down it would most likely show that "incidents" involving the military have declined to the point where in most recent years U.S personnel statistically commit less offences than the Okinawan population. But is crime less or more acceptable depending on your nationality?
Okinawa has the highest DUI ratio for the entire nation. This week a young man was beaten and robbed. Last week a fight between Okinawans resulted in a stabbing. In January a home made bomb targeted and injured a family in Urasoe and a civil servant was arrested for having sex wih a minor. Last year a man was beaten to death. Year before last a girl was gang raped by several teenagers in a park. The same year an american high school student was killed by a local teenager with a replica samurai sword. The year before that a local boy was beaten to death by his classmates.
NONE of these crimes involved military personnel.
Local media often goes the extra mile to paint U.S. personnel in an unfavorable light. Hardly a week goes by without a negatively slanted "story" or op-ed concerning the military in general. Ex.: At one time local media tried to create a furor about base contracted school buses using local bus stops as pick up points for American children. This campaign didn`t carry too well and died out after about a week. Does the media have an agenda?
Book mentions 70% of the population is against the bases. I have to wonder about that figure. Could the figure have been influenced by the construct of the poll? And/or most likely a large number of people that are ambivalent just gave the politically correct reply.
The interesting thing is that if you ask people, more often than not the reply is that they like Americans.
Mention is made of the economic impact of the bases. Much more of Okinawa`s economy than indicated by the book depends on the bases (thousands of people directly employed by the bases, local contractors, vendors, moving companies, tour operators, real estate agencies, rent payments, etc.). Last week a local bar and restaurant association made an appeal requesting a relaxing of military curfew because many of them were in danger of going under.
When the military began moving personnel renting local housing back onto base housing the anti-military mayor of Okinawa City made an appeal to stop the moves due to negative economic impact on Okinawa City.
The government gives Okinawa "special" tax breaks and incentives which are exclusive to the island. These lower tax rates target local industries which would have difficulty staying afloat without them. Gas is 10-20 percent cheaper than on mainland Japan and travel to Okinawa as a vacation destination is subsidized.
Okinawa received over 3 billion dollars in subsidies from the Japanese government for 2012. Okinawa receives similar funding every year from the Japanese government "partially" in recognition of the "burden" of the bases. If this funding were adjusted so as not to reflect the "base burden" how would this affect the local economy?
The bases and the "special" provisions they bring are so much a part of the local economic fabric that pulling them apart would be devastating. None of this is openly acknowldged as being tied to the bases probably because it would be politically incorrect in the extreme.
Areas that reverted to local control (Shintoshin, Hamby, etc) have taken on average 25 years to begin development. Jobs created are overwhelmingly minimum wage (shopping malls, fast food restaurants, pachinko parlors). When business migrates to those areas other areas stagnate. ex: when "American Village Mihama" opened and was touted as an example of what what could be done when a base is turned over to local control little mention is made of the fact that "American Village Mihama" sucked all the business and economic life out of surrounding business centers.
The local leadership is portrayed as powerless victims of greater forces. If you look at their track record in so far as "bringing home the bacon", it's kind of hard to understand how they can keep portraying themselves as such.
The relationship between the local authorities and bases has evolved since Okinawa's reversion to Japan. Over the decades since Reversion an almost "david and goliath" type of symbiosis has emerged.
If local authorities truly want to take the moral high ground they should try not having both hands out while making their case about the "base burden". Refuse anything and everything monetarily related to the base presense, be honest with the Okinawan people, and start moving the Okinawan people away from an entitlement mindset.
There are issues with the military on Okinawa but is it as oppressive or detrimental as the book guides you to think? Most people are so uninformed I doubt a fair unbiased answer could be given.
The peace/anti-war military movement on Okinawa is a major industry on Okinawa. There are tours, lectures, symposiums, etc., etc. going on just about everyday of the week. The strange thing is none of the lectures, etc. really discuss how wars are started, how they can be averted, or how to really promote "peace". The theme throughout is how Okinawa and Okinawans suffered. Okinawan politics revolve around how Okinawa suffered during the war. Is this the "norm" in other countries? Is this the norm in the Philipines, Malaysia, etc.?
I know it's not the norm in any of the Japanese areas in the mainland that got bombed into rubble.
When does closure come? When does Okinawa move forward? Why do the leaders and "thinkers" of Okinawa work so hard to keep Okinawans "victimized"?
The authors and contributors might better serve the people of Okinawa by not consistently portraying Okinawans as victims and instead work a bit more on encouraging the strengths of Okinawa and moving forward.
Something different from a local.
Update July 2013: Local authorities requested Japanese Maritime forces patrol waters south of the main Okinawan island because of fears of possible confrontation with foreign vessels. When Japanese Maritime patrol ships docked for resupply after patrolling the disputed area, the same islanders protested their presence. After repeated intrusions okinawan authorities complained that the Japanese Maritime patrol boats were taking too long to arrive when foreign vessels were spotted. Japanese government determined this to be a national security issue and requested permission to build a forward deployment base in the area. After much negotiation permission was granted and then rescinded. Area residents/authorities complained that plans for the base did not have enough of a positive financial impact on the community and wanted to renegotiate terms.
While this was going on the prefectural/state authorities were also busy trying to woo tourists (and their money) from the country of the "foreign" vessels with the pitch that the current strain in relations between Japan and said country had nothing to do with the Okinawan people. History of cultural ties, trade, etc. were touted to show the "special" relationship between Okinawa and said country. These incongruous positions by local leaders are not seen as contradictory or self-serving. Only on Okinawa?
Local media reported that local construction workers were exposed to asbestos when renovating on-base housing. Reporters slam the military establishment for exposing the locals to hazardous materials. Worker interviewed expressed distress at being tricked/deceived by the military. Media called for an investigation into the military's disregard for the welfare of the Okinawan people. What was not mentioned is that U.S. military housing is built for the bases by the Japanese government. Construction of facilties is contracted to local businesses using local labor with locally supplied construction material. After completion the buildings are then turned over to the base authorities. Disinformation used to push an agenda.
Update 9 October 2013: Reported in local media (Ryukyu Shimpo Newspaper and television) that local/Okinawan authorities are requesting the return to Okinawan control of 400 acres of U.S. military controlled land (part of Camp Hansen) be delayed. Return and subsequent cut-off of military rent would be too damaging to community finances. Fighting for return of base land but only on our terms.
The authors also assume that if the US-Japan would "equalize" or that the alliance would crumble altogether, a new zone of peace and prosperity in East Asia would flourish. They seem to assume that China is basically friendly with everyone, North Korea doesn't exist, Russia doesn't matter, and that an East Asian version of the EU is right around the corner. Maybe so, but darker scenarios could be envisioned as well. "Deterrence" is bandied about as if it was just a smokescreen for American Empire rather than a real security concept that many countries employ...and that includes China. Perhaps Japan and Okinawa will gamble that McCormack is right. Maybe they're wagering that he is wrong, and they actually have more agency in the relationship with the US than he seems to think.