The Limits of Okinawa: Japanese Capitalism, Living Labor, and Theorizations of Community
Uneven Development and the Rejection of Economic Nationalism in “Sago Palm Hell” Okinawa
2015. "Uneven Development and the Rejection of Economic Nationalism in “Sago Palm Hell” Okinawa", The Limits of Okinawa: Japanese Capitalism, Living Labor, and Theorizations of Community, Wendy Matsumura
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This chapter investigates two major protest movements that unfolded in the summer of 1931 in northern Okinawa, the Oogimi Village Reform Movement and the Arashiyama Incident. It situates these movements within the development of internal tensions that were accelerated by the collapse of Okinawa’s economy following the post-World War I recession and the establishment of Marxist organizations in the 1920s, which undermined the type of Okinawan solidarity that prominent local intellectuals like Ōta Chōfu and Oyadomari Kōei thought necessary for the attainment of economic recovery and political equality vis a vis mainland Japan. Both struggles allow us to see the way that local residents and their supporters responded to their economic hardships and the monopolization of political decision-making power by local elites in ways that could not have been anticipated by Okinawa’s leading intellectuals who advocated both economic nationalism and spiritual unity based on a belief in the existence of an organic community of Okinawans. Further, they must be understood as active attempts by peasantry-activists and Marxist intellectuals to create what Antonio Negri calls sites of cooperation as social living labor that were not based on any fixed boundaries based on geography, history or kinship.
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