Living on the Periphery: Ryūkyūan and Ainu Third-Space Identity under Japanese Colonization

  • Author / Creator
    Li, Mengqi
  • This research focuses on the Ryūkyūan and Ainu third-space identity under Japanese acculturation from the Meiji period (1868-1912). The Ryūkyūans and Ainu are Japanese minorities and their territories were independent from Japan in the pre-Meiji period. The Ryūkyūans established a kingdom in the fifteenth century and the Ainu were self-governed in the land of Ezo. Japanese colonization over the Ryūkyūans and Ainu started in the Edo period (1603-1868), and it was strengthened in the Meiji period with the incorporation of the Ryūkyū Kingdom and the land of Ezo into Japan as Okinawa prefecture and Hokkaidō, respectively. Kōminka (皇民化, imperialization) education was implemented in Okinawa and Hokkaidō to cultivate loyal Japanese citizens. The Ryūkyūans’ and Ainu’s identities were profoundly affected by the acculturation. As people living on the periphery of Japan, many Ryūkyūans and Ainu were struggling within an ambivalent third-space identity formed under colonization: they were Ryūkyūans/Ainu and Japanese while simultaneously being neither Ryūkyūans/Ainu nor Japanese. In Chapter One, basic historical facts are provided to justify the foreign status of the Ryūkyūans and Ainu before the Meiji period, with a discussion of the terminology regarding Japanese colonization over the Ryūkyūs and the land of Ezo. The motivation for the Meiji government to incorporate the Ryūkyū Kingdom and the land of Ezo is also investigated in this chapter. Chapter Two examines how the kōminka education policies were carried out in Okinawa and Hokkaidō respectively, as well as how the Ryūkyūans and Ainu were differentiated in acculturation. As a transition to Chapter Three, the last section in this chapter investigates the connection between the discrimination in kōminka education and Ryūkyūan/Ainu self-alienation. In Chapter Three, Western post-colonial theories from Homi K. Bhabha (1949- ) and Franz Fanon (1925-1961) are applied to the Japanese colonial context to explain the Ryūkyūan and Ainu third-space identity, in combination with Iha Fuyū’s (1876-1947) and Hatozawa Samio’s (1935-1971) psychological analysis of the Ryūkyūans and Ainu respectively. The disruptive effects of the Ryūkyūan and Ainu third-space identity on Japanese colonial authorities will be discussed at the end of chapter three as well. Chapter Four provides a substantial analysis of the Ryūkyūan and Ainu third-space identity depicted in literary works created by Ryūkyūan and Ainu writers in the Taishō (1912-1926) and Shōwa periods (1926-1989).

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.