Why McDonaldisation of Okinawa? Identity and Political Economy of the Base Island

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Direct protest and democratic political opposition of the people have been one of the crucial factors that stalled the construction of a new US Marine forces base in Northeastern Okinawa, for two decades since the Special Action Committee on Okinawa agreement in 1996. In April 2017, the dirt and grovels have been brought into the ocean; the landfill work has started in a way that is impossible to reverse the damage done to the pristine marine environment of Oura Bay area. Why, despite the non-violent civil disobedience that is well recognized internationally, has the further military base construction and environmental destruction managed to pass and become accepted? Okinawa Under Occupation:McDonaldization and Resistance to Neoliberal Propaganda explores the sociological processes of rationalisation required in pushing ahead with the policy of environmental destruction, of influencing reproduction of the social order where conformity and obedience to authority, and decisions about the defense structure go unquestioned. Such processes are reflected in the cultural signs, symbols and various discourse practices, and most importantly, we argue, the hegemonic ideology of neoliberal economic development, in contemporary Okinawa. George Ritzer’s ‘McDonaldisation of society’ thesis is useful in understanding how propaganda and manufacturing of consent are woven into the base-related economic and social conditions in the Main Island. In particular, I will highlight the economic interests for neoliberalisation of the local economy that have driven the opposition to the new Marine base construction in Henoko, manifest in the 'All-Okinawa' coalition of both conservative business and progressive political forces Okinawa.

Dr Miyume Tanji is an honorary lecturer at the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. Miyume is a graduate from Sophia University in Tokyo and has studied and taught International Relations, Politics and Modern Japanese History, at the Australian National University, Murdoch University, Curtin University and UNSW Sydney. Her main interest is in protest and social movements in Okinawa and Japan. Miyume's books include Myth, Protest and Struggle in Okinawa (Routledge, 2006); and Okinawa Under Occupation: McDonaldization and Resistance to Neoliberal Propaganda(Palgrave, 2017). She has served as Guest Editor (with Greg Dvorak) for the special issue “Indigenous Asias,” for Amerasia JournalAsian American/Pacific Islander/Transcultural Societies(2015). Recent articles include “Militarised Sexualities in East Asia” (with Vera Mackie) in Mark McClelland and Vera Mackie (eds), Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia, (Routledge, 2015), “Japanese Wartime Occupation, War Reparation and Guam’s Chamorro Self-Determination” in Under Occupation: Resistance and Struggle in a Militarised Asia-Pacific, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013) and “Rethinking Resistance in Everyday Okinawa: Diaspora, Transformation and Minor Literature,” Asian Studies Review (2012) and other articles in Critical Asian Studies, The Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

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