In 1951, six years after the United States defeated Japan and commenced the Occupation of Okinawa, the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyus (USCAR) issued an ordinance in support of agricultural cooperatives. Despite the appearance of altruism, the move marked the emergence of the U.S. anticolonial empire, a form that advocated racial and ethnic self-determination even as it expanded the U.S. military presence. This article shows how U.S. policymakers in Okinawa borrowed from modernization theory to implement models to foster ethnic identification through economic development. Their plans sought to render the United States an ally to Okinawa freedom despite the devastating effects militarism had on the local landscape. Specifically, military plans posited frameworks like the Okinawan economy, which strategically turned the military into a partner without whom Okinawa could not modernize. The article further focuses on agriculture, an arena where the contradictions of the U.S. Occupation was most acute. It argues that rehabilitating the local cooperative network drew Okinawans into the military project, not only to paper over the U.S. colonial presence, but also to further the reach of military discipline.
Cooperative Militarization: Agricultural Reform and the U.S. Occupation of Okinawa
Symbol Lai is an independent scholar based in Philadelphia. She earned a doctorate from the University of Washington and has worked in public service, advocacy, and grassroots organizing. She wrote much of this article during her commutes and on her days off. The views in this article are her own.
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Symbol Lai; Cooperative Militarization: Agricultural Reform and the U.S. Occupation of Okinawa. Pacific Historical Review 1 February 2022; 91 (1): 33–65. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/phr.2022.91.1.33
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