What's going on behind those blue eyes ? : The perception of Okinawa women by U.S. military personnel

Nashiro, Nika
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2013]
Please note: This is the entirety of the thesis received by the student. "Hi Sexy! Why are you so sexified? Is that your club clothes? [sic]" was how I was greeted by a Caucasian US soldier when I was working on a US military base before starting my master's program. This has triggered me to continue my undergraduate research to master's level. What further propelled me to continue my undergraduate studies are the ongoing unethical demeanors practiced by the US military enlisted soldiers (henceforth GI) in Okinawa. I find theses inappropriate behaviors of these GIs very problematic and threatening to the local society and to the US-Japan security alliance in bigger picture. In addition to their actions, the deployment of a Marine aircraft, MV-22 Osprey, and possible deployment of Air Force Osprey CV-22 to Okinawa despite the endless protests and opposition by the local citizens made me think twice about US and Japan's stance on Okinawa. Okinawans have been raising their voices for some decades about the large US military presence in Okinawa; yet their voice is not heard by either the US or Japan; rather, it just a noise to them, making Okinawans voiceless. These ongoing monologues make me question again, "can Okinawa speak and how does the US perceive Okinawa?" My research started in Fall 2009, in response to my observation that there are limited materials for Okinawa and Okinawans to understand the US and their personnel. Though a number of publications regarding Okinawa's perspective toward the US military and the US-Japan relation have been published throughout these past years, I have yet to encounter any material that analyzes US soldiers' perspective on Okinawa (both from micro and macro level). Because of this, the majority of Okinawans lack knowledge of the US military and their personnel. When one lacks knowledge of a side, there is a chance of having misunderstandings and miscommunications. That being said, Okinawans' lack of knowledge can confuse and endanger them. The main objective of this research is to acquire the voices of the GIs who are stationed in Okinawa and inform local communities and spread awareness and knowledge to local women who often lack knowledge about GIs. I want to understand what GIs see when they look at Okinawa and Okinawan women. I also want to understand how they see, that is, how their views are framed and expressed through metaphors of feminization and sexualization. If GIs were more aware of the condescending and belittling implications of the tropes through which their vision is filtered, they might learn to see and think differently about Okinawa and Okinawan women. Educating one side of the party can eliminate some dilemmas; however, it can still cause animosity between two parties. Because of the assumption that I have made, I believe it is crucial to educate not just the Okinawan side, but the US military side as well. The significance of this research is that, by providing an alternative perspective for the local citizens, it will enhance the understanding of the US military and their personnel by the local Okinawans. Because locals lack knowledge of the US military and their personnel's view, there are tendencies for them to put themselves in dangerous situations. In addition, my research will acknowledge the importance of knowing others before hand in order to prevent any clashes between parties which could escalate into international incidents between countries. I believe this research will also benefit the US military and their personnel who are stationed in Okinawa and other US military hosting counties. By informing the US military and their personnel about their own peers' action and perception, it would acknowledge their past behavior and would influence their future decision making. Furthermore, this research can contribute to bringing solutions to the ongoing issues with US-Japan and Japan-Okinawa relations in broader perspective.
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Okinawan women
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