Okinawa Research Paper

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Okinawans are historically proud people with their own unique language, culture and traditions. However, the identity of Okinawans in Japan has had a turbulent history as they were viewed as inferior to the Naichi Japanese people and thus became the target of various forms of prejudice and discrimination. Poor treatment of Okinawans continued to persist even to modern days, as evidenced by the dismissive attitudes shown towards them by the Naichi Japanese who sees their customs and practices as “alien” and barbaric”. Many Okinawans were forced to settle in Buraku “outcast” districts when traveling to other parts of Japan for work or to receive education due to poverty and the unwillingness of the local Japanese to accept them into their communities.…show more content…
Sakihara summarizes the Japanese conformity movement for Okinawa “The government authorities attempted to eradicate local characteristics of Okinawa and imposed instead the so-called standard mores and languages of Tokyo. Okinawan customs and manners were typically derided as “barbaric,” “backward,” and “unworthy of the subjects of the Emperor.” Children who spoke the Okinawan dialect at school were punished” (Sakihara, 16) As the United States reopened its doors to Asian immigrants in the 20th century, many Japanese people, including Okinawans, emigrated East through the Pacific Ocean towards America in hopes of better lives, eventually reaching the islands of Hawaii, where many choose to settle and start new lives. But even on this new foreign land, the intolerance towards Okinawans from Naichi Japanese carried over, forcing the Okinawans to pull together amongst themselves in the face of adversity once again. In order to separate themselves in a show of pride, the term Uchinanchu is used by Okinawan immigrants and their descendants in Hawaii to identify themselves as an ethnic group distinct from the Naichi of Japan’s main…show more content…
Okinawa prefecture today make up most of what is formerly known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, which consists of 73 islands between Kyushu, the southernmost major island of Japan, and present day Taiwan. The original Ryukyuan people were migrants who believed to have crossed into the northern Amami-Okinawa Islands via Kyushu. This was followed by new waves of migrants including those related to the Jomon period of Japan and other South East Asian regions such as Taiwan and the Philippines in populating the islands. The many similarities between the Ryukyuan language and Japanese language suggest a common origin in the language of the original immigrants from main land Asia to the Japanese archipelago. As the original Ryukyuan population evolved from small families, to villages, to eventually powerful principalities in the fourteenth century, three different kingdoms emerged in the archipelago, they were the Hokuzan, Chuzan and Nanzan. With the Chuzan lord Sho Hashi eventually unifying all of Ryukyu Kingdom, declaring himself king in 1429. Throughout the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom, Okinawa conducted trades with China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and many other South East Asian countries with open arms. This was made possible due to Okinawa’s perfect geographic location, allowing it to act as a vital trade link between countries

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