Professor Mark Beeson explores issues surrounding national identity and current geopolitical tensions through the history of Okinawa in his opinion piece in The Conversation.
Professor Beeson looks at how Okinawa – one place in the increasingly troubled East Asian region captures all of the tensions over national identity, accidents of history, and the current geopolitical tensions that threaten to spill over into actual conflict.
Looking at the history of Okinawa offers a small but illuminating window into some wider issues, and not just for students of Asian geopolitics. He examines the two claims to fame that the island has beyond its natural charms and the celebrated cheerfulness of its inhabitants.
First, it was the scene of one of the most brutal and costly conflicts of the entire Second World War. The second reason Okinawa is significant is that it’s a very tangible reminder of how difficult it is to change the political facts on the ground, no matter what the majority of the people might want.