The Limits of Okinawa: Japanese Capitalism, Living Labor, and Theorizations of Community
The Miyako Island Peasantry Movement as an Event
This chapter investigates the significance of the Miyako Island Peasantry Movement, which unfolded between 1893 and 1895. This movement, which forced the Japanese state to revise its Preservation of Old Customs Policy is read as an act of refusal that exposed the function that the discourse and policy of preserving old customs and structures played in rationalizing the endocolonization that the Japanese state required in its peripheries during the initial stages of its own formation. What emerges from this investigation is that the implementation in Okinawa of a capitalist mode of production took place partially because of the Japanese capitalist state’s demands, but just as centrally, through the actions of Miyako’s peasantry who demanded a fundamental transformation of the Preservations policy. Though Okinawa’s policymakers responded to the movement by using it as an opportunity to conduct the reforms that they were already planning, we should not dismiss the significance of this activity, which was borne out of the determination of a small group of cultivators to destroy the existing society that threatened their well-being and to articulate an alternative. The significance of this is immeasurable, and provided inspiration for other similar struggles in the region.