July 2013 Okinawa’s Invisible Minority: A Look at the Philippine Uchinānchu Nisei

SIETAR Japan, Kansai Chapter, July 2013 Meeting


“Okinawa’s Invisible Minority: A Look at the Philippine Uchinānchu Nisei”


Presenter:     Ms. Johanna Zulueta PhD

(post-doctoral research fellow at Hitotsubashi University)

Date:            Saturday, July 6, 2013,    2:00pm~4:00pm

Place:           Ryukoku University, Osaka Umeda Campus

(14F, Hilton Plaza West Office Tower

2-2-2, Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka City)  Tel:06-6344-0218

Access:       http://career.ryukoku.ac.jp/ossaka_campus/access/indes.html

Fee:     Free for members and students,   500 yen for non-members

Language:   English

There will be an informal dinner gathering afterwards.  Please let us know if you would like to join it when you come to the presentation.


Description of the presentations:

The Philippine Uchinānchu Nisei comprises a significant group of individuals living and working in Okinawa.  Born of Okinawan mothers and Filipino fathers who once worked on U.S. military bases during the immediate post-war years, these Nisei, I argue, are an “invisible minority” within the context of contemporary Okinawan society, as well as within the constitutive category of “Japanese” that tends to conflate nationality and ethnicity (and race) thus creating boundaries defining exclusion and inclusion within the nation-state.

Many of these Nisei work on military installations that dot the main island of the prefecture.  Most of them hold Japanese citizenship and thus, Japanese names, making them “Japanese” by law and by virtue of parentage.  While living as “Japanese” in legal terms, they see and call themselves as “half”: “half-Okinawan” and “half-Filipino”, where emphasis on “half-Okinawan” vis-à-vis “half-Japanese” indicates a claim or an assertion of one’s Okinawan identity.  This claim, as well as the recognition of themselves as “half”, and thus “mixed”, is tied to notions of ethnicity, race, and nationality, which are interdependent and interconnected, and in many cases, considered to be one and the same.  For this study, I explore how ethnicity, race, and nationality intersect using the case of the Nisei and how these intersections enable the creation of an invisible minority within the category of Japanese nationals.  With this, I discuss how “Japanese” and “half” are both ascribed and self-ascribed identities, and how each of these two categories delineate “boundaries” and hence engage in “boundary making process/es”.


About the Presenter:

Johanna Zulueta is currently a post-doctoral research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and is currently based at Hitotsubashi University’s Transnational Sociology Program.  She graduated from Hitotsubashi University with a Doctor of Social Sciences degree in March 2011.  She is a sociologist by training and her work focuses on migration and ethnic studies, particularly on contemporary migrations between Okinawa and the Philippines.  She has also served as Lecturer of Sociology and Japanese Studies at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.