Okinawa’s Search for Autonomy and Tokyo’s Commitment to the Japan-U.S. Alliance

  • Shino HaterumaEmail author
Part of the Springer Polar Sciences book series (SPPS)


Greenland and Okinawa, the southernmost island prefecture of Japan, are both, as sub-state entities, involved in triangular interactions with their central governments and the U.S. over issues pertaining to American military bases. Examining the case of Okinawa provides us with a useful reference point for considering the case of Greenland because of the similar characteristics Okinawa exhibits in terms of U.S. presence and center-periphery relationship. Considering that Okinawan autonomy eroded through its annexation by Japan, involvement in the Second World War, and the 27-year occupation by the U.S. military, how did this sub-state actor seek autonomy, come into conflict with the national security of Japan, and end up being restrained by the center? After the end of the Cold War, Okinawa challenged the continuing U.S. presence, thus endangering the foundations of the security relations between Japan and the U.S. This chapter argues that the people of Okinawa raised their voices and protested U.S. military presence in order to be able to handle their property and future development on their own, and that, while they were able to effect partial changes in the locations and activities of U.S. bases, they were not able to significantly alter U.S. force posture in the islands. The main reason for this is that the central government in Tokyo limited Okinawa’s influence on national security policy by exerting its legal and administrative power.


Okinawa U.S. bases Japan-U.S. alliance Sub-state entity Anti-base protest Autonomy 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Asia-Pacific StudiesWaseda UniversityTokyoJapan

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