Skip to content

Paradise Lost? Okinawa zwischen China, Japan und den Vereinigten Staaten

Folker Reichert


Pages 131 - 149

DOI https://doi.org/10.13173/GG.1.1.131




PARADISE LOST? OKINAWA BETWEEN CHINA, JAPAN AND THE UNITED STATES

The essay takes a conversation between the British navy officer Basil Hall and the exiled emperor Napoleon Bonaparte about Okinawa, the largest of the Ryūkyū Islands, as a starting point for an exploration of the reality behind the myth of a pacifist utopia. While European writers eagerly took up Hall’s claim that the islanders lived in perpetual peace, Okinawa was actually marked by feuds among small principalities before the emergence of the Shō Dynasty in the early fifteenth century. After prospering as an entrepȏt of the ‘maritime silk route’, Ryūkyū lost its commercial position to the Portuguese in the later sixteenth century. Despite being subdued by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1609, Ryūkyū successfully navigat¬ed between Japanese and Chinese loyalties and influences for the next 250 years. The full administrative and military integration of the islands into the Japanese Empire eventually turned Okinawa into a horrific battle site in the final months of World War II. Neither the islands’ restitution to Japan in 1972 nor modern mass tourism were able to restore Hall’s lost paradise – if it ever existed.



Share


Export Citation