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Translocal Island: The Okinawa Struggle beyond Minority Politics

ANU Japan Institute Seminar


Virtual event


Wednesday, 22 September, 2021 - 17:00 to 18:00

Next year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of Okinawa’s controversial administration hand-over to Japan in May 1972.

Contrary to the hopes among the local population for the end of the US military occupation around that period, the international politics that has defines the course of Okinawa’s history has shown little change. Some might even argue that this political architecture, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘San Francisco System’, is becoming critical once again as the competition for regional hegemony increasingly intensifies.

This seminar examines the history of Okinawa’s anti-base struggle to understand how the local protest has developed. While the local activism tends to be discussed within the scope of the San Francisco System, Dr Takahashi argues that this framework does not reflect the entirety of the Okinawan movement by reducing its diversity and complexity into one of the minority struggles in Japan.

What Dr Takahashi presents instead is a translocal perspective that allows us to examine the development of local activism in terms of ‘flows’ and ‘vortex’ (Morris-Suzuki 2011, 2019; Kawabata 2019). Those metaphors indicate the trans-border circulation of people and ideas and the sites they converge.

The efficacy of the translocal perspective is that it shows the involvement of social struggles in other places by highlighting actors and activism outside of Okinawa in the making of ‘local’ struggle. This perspective enables us to re-contextualise Okinawa’s activism as one of the anti-colonial struggles against military colonization in Asia and the Pacific.


Dr Shin Takahashi is a lecturer in Japanese studies and also teaches Asian studies at the School of Languages and Cultures at the Victoria University of Wellington. His main fields of expertise are modern and contemporary Japanese history (political, social, intellectual, transnational), and history and cultural memory of WWII in East Asia.

His research over the last ten years has primarily focused on social and cultural movements in twentieth-century Okinawa, or the so-called Okinawan struggle, and its implications in the regional and the global contexts. He received PhD in History and Asian Studies at the Australian National University in 2016 . 

A recording of this seminar is available here.

The ANU Japan Institute Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 





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