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Terminology

For the purpose of this paper, the terms "Ryukyuan" or "Ryukyu Kingdom" will be used to denote the inhabitants or governing body of the Ryukyuan Archipelago (from the Miyako and Yaeyama island groups in the south to the Amami island group in the north) up until the formal annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879 and the dissolution of its governing monarchy. After that time, the term "Okinawan" or "Okinawa Prefecture" will be used, despite the fact that islands other than the island of Okinawa also exist in Okinawa Prefecture and existed in the Ryukyu Kingdom.

I use the term racism to describe the treatment of Uchinanchu by the Japanese as opposed to discrimination, though people differ on whether or not Uchinanchu suffer discrimination or racism. I define discrimination as prejudice based on unfamiliarity with other people's cultural customs, language, or traditions. Racism, I define as this same discrimination combined with a hegemonic system of power. I believe that Uchinanchu continue to live under this type of racist system of power in Japan, and that therefore, the word racism is the best term to describe this relationship.

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