Professor Tomiyama Ichirō is a Professor of Global Studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.  Originally trained at Kyoto University as an agricultural historian, Prof. Tomiyama is best known as an historian and cultural critic who works on Japanese imperialism and colonialism, issues of identity in postwar Japan, war memory, and Okinawa.  He is a prolific author and has published six monographs (two of which have been translated in to Korean) and six edited volumes.  Before joining the faculty of Doshisha, he taught at Kobe University of Foreign Studies and Osaka University.  Professor Tomiyama is the 15th Tetsuo Najita Distinguished Lecture in Japanese Studies speaker.  Professor Tomiyama's lecture will take place virtually via Zoom on Monday, February 21st at 5 pm US Central Time.  This event is part of the "Rethinking 'Reversion': Okinawa, Japan, and the U.S. Fifty Years Later" anniversary series.  To learn more about the series, click here.


The Making of Okinawans: “Reversion” as “L’ensemble des efforts”

The year after Okinawa “reverted” to Japan in 1972, a children’s book entitled (The History of Okinawa (Okinawa no ayumi, Maki Shoten) was published.  Its author was Kokuba Kōtarō, a member of the Central Committee of the Okinawa People’s Party (Okinawa jinmintō), who had fought against the appropriation of land by the American military. Amidst the maelstrom of Okinawa’s “reversion,” what was the “history of Okinawa” that Kokuba wanted to describe to children?  Kokuba, who was known as both a pragmatic activist and a theorist, had written two essays in 1962.  These were “Okinawa and American Imperialism: With a focus on Economic Policy” (“Okinawa to Amerika teikoku shūgi—Keizai seisaku wo chūshin ni,” Keizai hyōron 11:1) and “The Movement for Okinawan Reversion and the Leftist Parties (Kakushinseitō): On the Formation of National Consciousness” (Shisō no. 452). These essays were written just after Okinawa was incorporated into the Dollar Zone.  From the 1960s, huge amounts of financial capital from the Bank of America and other entities were thrust upon Okinawa, which rapidly became wealthier. It was in this context that Kokuba wrote about what Professor Tomiyama describes in his title as “the making of Okinawans” as a nation or minzoku.  In his view, here Kokuba was attempting to envision Okinawa’s past and its future. The reference to “l’ensemble des efforts” in his subtitle comes from a passage in Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth in which Fanon discusses national culture. Fanon’s point here was that national culture emerges from the struggle of formerly colonized people and results from a process in which multiple different movements coalesce. The “l’ensemble des efforts” of the struggle and these movements did not end with Okinawa’s “reversion” and has not been extinguished.

To view this lecture on YouTube, click here.