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Religions 2018, 9(6), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060188

Ifa Fuyū’s Search for Okinawan-Japanese Identity

Department of Philosophy, University of Hawaii at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Received: 29 April 2018 / Revised: 17 May 2018 / Accepted: 18 May 2018 / Published: 12 June 2018
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Abstract

This paper focuses on the crucial role played by Ifa Fuyū, the “father of Okinawan studies,” in articulating ideas related to Okinawan-Japanese identity. Starting with a brief overview of Ifa’s life and work, especially his pioneering work in Ryukyuan linguistics, the author observes how Ifa’s progressive and reformist perspective shapes his discourse on religion, language, and history. The author then moves into analyzing a recently discovered wartime article that Ifa wrote in 1945, when he learned in Tokyo that the battle of Okinawa broke out between Japan and the U.S. Ifa’s controversial article shows how a strong sense of nationalistic identity was imposed upon Okinawans, on the one hand, while also revealing Ifa’s intention to fight prejudice toward Okinawans, on the other. This leads to the broader context of Japan’s emergence as a “nation state.” Problematizing the question of identity, the author argues that alternative histories of Japan should be taken into account for its proper understanding. Comparing Ifa’s view with historian Amino Yoshihiko’s thesis on Japan and modernization, the author envisions how identity can be seen as a growing network of plural identities rather than an abstractly imagined monolithic identity. View Full-Text
Keywords: Ifa Fuyū; Okinawa; Japanese history; identity; nationalism; Amino Yoshihiko; alternative histories of Japan; regional boundaries; violence; historical linguistics Ifa Fuyū; Okinawa; Japanese history; identity; nationalism; Amino Yoshihiko; alternative histories of Japan; regional boundaries; violence; historical linguistics
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Ishida, M. Ifa Fuyū’s Search for Okinawan-Japanese Identity. Religions 2018, 9, 188.

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