Presentation at the 49th Southwest Conference on Asian Studies, October 23, 2020.
Okinawa (Ryukyu) has often been called the keystone of security in the Asia-Pacific, yet since 1945 Okinawans have strongly opposed the presence of the U.S. military, including the current building of the controversial military base at Henoko. Both the U.S. and Japan cite the threat of China as reason for the heavy concentration of military on Okinawa, though the majority of Okinawans do not see China as a threat. For over 2,300 years Okinawa and China have maintained peaceful, friendly, mutually-beneficial relations, including over 500 years of formal bilateral relations. An examination of Okinawa's history through primary sources written in the Okinawan languages and through an Okinawan worldview, long overlooked by modern scholars, provide insights into both Okinawa and China, and may help improve cross-cultural understanding, diplomatic, and economic affairs in the Asia-Pacific.