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Charmaine Willis (University at Albany, SUNY), “Framing the Conversation: the US Military and Anti-US-Military Activism in Japan”

August 5, 2021 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT

U.S. EDT: August 5 (Thu), 8 – 9 PM

JST: August 6 (Fri), 9 – 10 AM

NOTE: Registration required! Link.


Since the end of WWII, the US has maintained a military presence in Japan with bases spread throughout the archipelago. Tensions emerge periodically between the base presence and the local population, particularly on the southernmost island of Okinawa. The US military presence in Okinawa has elicited more local resistance than its presence in mainland Japan, despite large and strategically important bases there. Until recently, previous research on anti-US-base protests in Japan has taken for granted the disparity in protest activity between Okinawa and the Japanese mainland, failing to examine the possible reasons for this difference. This study seeks to discern why the US bases in Okinawa have elicited more protest than the bases on the Japanese mainland through a mixed-method analysis that employs an original protest event dataset, activist and elite interviews, and primary sources. I argue that the difference is primarily rooted in divergent protest framing and discursive opportunity structures. When the US military presence is visible, as in Okinawa, anti-US-military activists’ frames are more likely to resonate. Additionally, communities like Okinawa that have been historically marginalized by the central government and/or the US are more likely to support anti-US-military activism vis-à-vis protests. This study endeavors not only to answer the questions surrounding anti-US protest disparity in Japan, but also to contribute to the understanding of under what conditions sustained protest mobilization emerges.

Paper can be found here.

Presenter: Charmaine Willis (University at Albany, SUNY).

Discussants: Yoshiaki Kubo (Indiana University Bloomington; University of the Ryukyus), Andrew Yeo (Catholic University of America).

Chair: Amy Catalinac (New York University).


August 5, 2021
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT