Identifying the Periphery: Challenging Citizenship, Nationality, and Identity on the Ogasawara Islands

  • David ChapmanEmail author
Part of the International Perspectives on Migration book series (IPMI, volume 2)


The Ogasawara Islands of Japan are a site of multiple layers of migration and displacement. The islands were first settled by Europeans and Pacific Islanders in 1830 and then colonized by Japan in 1875. In 1944, at the height of WWII, the islands’ inhabitants were forced to evacuate to mainland Japan. The US navy then occupied the islands until their return to Japanese sovereignty in 1964. This chapter discusses the identifications of the Ogasawara Islanders. It situates the Ogasawara Islands in their historical context of migration but focuses on the period from the evacuation to the reversion to Japanese sovereignty as an extraordinary period of mobilization. The chapter shows that the displacement of the entire civilian population led to experiences that varied greatly among the diverse islanders. Explaining the numerous and multifaceted dimensions and their intersections of the Ogasawara Islander experiences shows that, like other Islanders, Ogasawara identity is characterized by the tension between on the one hand, isolation and insularity and on the other, mobility and migration. Interviews of Islanders indicate that the processes of identification within the changing cultural, political, and social contexts of the islands have played a significant role in affecting notions of self.


Birth Certificate Japanese Government Japanese Subject Nation Space Bonin Islander 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This project was made possible through a research fellowship from the Japan Foundation, that provided financial assistance to conduct fieldwork on the Ogasawara Islands in November 2009. I would also like to thank Dr. Daniel Long again for his assistance in all things relating to the Ogasawara Islands and the staff at Tokyo Metropolitan University for accepting me as a visiting scholar. Professor Kawakami Ikuo and the staff at Waseda University Tokyo also provided assistance and supervision as part of the Japan Foundation grant during November and December 2009. Dr. Ishihara Shun is always generous in providing information about excellent sources relating to the Ogasawaras. I am also indebted to Satō Yuki for her enthusiasm in sharing her contacts and knowledge so generously. Thanks also to Dr. Gracia Liu-Farrer for valuable and insightful comments as a reviewer in an earlier version of this paper. I am also indebted to the staff at the Ogasawara Board of Education (Kyōikuiinkai) for allowing me free access to all their resources. Mostly however, I would like to thank the people of the islands that are the focus of this paper. The Ogasawara (Bonin) Islanders have been the most generous and friendly hosts to me during my visits and have become not just acquaintances but friends.


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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Communication, International Studies and LanguagesUniversity of South AustraliaMagillAustralia

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