Ms Monica Flint4
4University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
The longstanding debate concerning the US base presence in Okinawa has polarised many and garnered significant attention in scholarship and the media. Okinawa dispels widespread narratives of Japanese cultural and ethnic homogeneity and presents an interesting example of plural and incongruent Future Asias within Japan. Using a qualitative approach, the paper analyses the political rhetoric of the late Takeshi Onaga (Governor of Okinawa from December 2014 to August 2018). The paper finds that Onaga used an essentialist notion of Okinawan cultural identity and history in order to further an anti-base agenda. It contributes a new perspective to the literature on US bases in Okinawa by shedding light on the convergence of representations of contemporary Okinawan identity, ethnicity and history in the local Okinawan political debate. Further, in drawing on examples from Onaga’s Twitter and YouTube accounts, the paper responds to the scarcity of literature on the relationship between social media and politics in Japan.