The Limits of Okinawa: Japanese Capitalism, Living Labor, and Theorizations of Community
The Impossibility of Plantation Sugar in Okinawa
This chapter examines the difficulty that large-scale mainland sugar capital faced in keeping their factories operating at full capacity on entering the prefecture in 1910. The problem was that central Okinawa’s sugar producers chose to manufacture their own lower-grade sugar through small-scale, labor-intensive, and communal methods instead of submitting the cane that they grew as raw material to newly established modern factories. After clarifying the state and large sugar’s response to non-selling alliances that the peasantry formed, this chapter will link those responses to a move away from assimilatory strategies that local intellectuals had advocated during much of the Meiji period. Ōta Chōfu and Iha Fuyū’s came to believe that instilling pride in the Okinawan people through the promotion of history, arts, and culture was the only measure to counter the state’s proposal to transform Okinawa into a colony under Taiwan’s jurisdiction. Appeals to Okinawan community had only limited success in convincing small producers to reorganize their collective labor and production arrangements in a manner that local bourgeoisie believed to be most effective in countering the overwhelming power of large Japanese sugar capital.