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An Okinawan Nation?

The question that remains is whether or not there will ever be a growth in Okinawan nationalism in the very near future that would press for eventual independence from Japan, and it is here that analysis of Okinawa's situation enters into speculation. While on the one hand there has been a resurgence of interest in traditional music and dance forms there is little clarity on how far the Okinawans might go. Despite the fact that many Okinawans can now access considerable power in Japanese affairs and participate in all spheres of Japanese social life, many Okinawans still separate themselves from Japan in daily conversation, so that Japanese mainlanders are "Yamatunchu," and Okinawans are "Uchinanchu." Also, lingering discrimination still persists to a certain degree, and Okinawa still occupies the low end of the economic scale in Japan, thriving largely on its tourism industry. All of these factors raise questions as to where Okinawa will go in the future.

The overarching reality, however, that goes beyond the question of Okinawan nationalism is that the base issue remains an issue largely determined in a bilateral manner by the governments of Japan and the United States, without significant representation of the Okinawan people in this decision-making process. As long as Okinawan people are unable to determine the course of their own affairs, they will continue to feel resentment at both the U.S. and Japan, and this resentment may form the strongest basis for any form of resurgent nationalism.

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