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History of the First Settlers of the Ogasawara Islands

 
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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:58 pm    Post subject: History of the First Settlers of the Ogasawara Islands Reply with quote
This looks like an extremely interesting book, the article has a lot of stuff I had never heard about:

http://japanfocus.org/-David-Chapman/3169

Inventing Subjects and Sovereignty: Early History of the First Settlers of the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands.

David Chapman


Abstract

In 1877 Robert Myers and four others living on the Bonin/Ogasawara Islands became the first foreigners to be naturalized as Japanese subjects after more than two hundred years of Japan’s semi-exclusion from the outside world. In the space of five years, fifty-nine other first settlers became Japanese subjects/’naturalized foreigners’ through entry on the Household Family Registry (koseki). At a time when Japan was emerging from a feudal-like system to a modern nation state the Islands were one of Japan’s first attempts, in modern times, at overseas expansion. The multinational community on these islands presented the Meiji authorities with unprecedented challenges that could only be overcome through extraordinary measures. In this study I explore the circumstances and context surrounding the unusually placed Bonin Islanders in the late nineteenth century to shed light on the processes of Japanese colonization and social control. I argue that the koseki, as an instrument of ‘bio-power’ (Foucault, 1998: 140), was indispensible in successfully legitimizing and exercising sovereign power over the Islands.

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heron
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Fascinating story and article.
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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I found the Bonin islands on google maps - they are actually closer to Tokyo than Okinawa. I didn't even imagine there were any islands south of Tokyo isolated way out in the Pacific ocean yet so close to Japan - for some reason I thought Iwo Jima was a lot farther to the Southeast, but it's part of this island chain. From what I can tell by the satellite view, they are populated and based on all of the place names, are (still) Japanese held.
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heron
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I had to go and look them up too - I'd heard of the Ogasawara islands vaguely but had no idea where they were. They are definitely part of the Japanese "family" now - all those names sound a little creepy given the less than inclusive history. Very Happy
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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm shocked you all haven't heard of them-they are, after all, the birthplace of Gojira!
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heron
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I know that now! Laughing
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks much for the link! I've been finding tons of other really interesting articles on that site.
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Obenjo Kusanosuke
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I was thinking of leading a new expedition to Monster Island. Anyone want to go for the ride? I've even gotten the peanuts to come along and perform their Mothra song and dance. Just Kidding

In all seriousness, life on the Bonin Islands was probably never easy- especially for those who migrated to that stink hole called Iwo Jima. It's hot and reeks from sulfur in a lot of places. Domer went there on a tour as a guest of the JSDF (the island is completely under the control of the Japanese military and no civilians have lived there since they were evacuated to the mainland prior to the big battle) a few years back and I remember one among the group went down with heat stroke. It must really be hellishly hot and humid in the summer, like the Ryukyus.
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shikisoku
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ogasawara is beautiful tropical islands.
A friend of mine spends vacation there every year.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The New York Times published an interesting article a few weeks ago about the remaining Oubeikei (欧米系, people of European/American descent) in Ogasawara, the decline of their culture/identity, their feelings of being marginalized, etc.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/world/asia/fewer-westerners-remain-on-remote-japanese-island.html?pagewanted=all

Interesting to see them saying that the Japanese - in particular the Ogasawara clan - never set foot on the islands, never settled them, but only claimed them. Reminds me of pre-Edo-period claims to Okinawa and the Ryukyus.

I knew that when Europeans first discovered the islands, back in the 1540s or so, they found them unpopulated and did not settle them at that time. But I hadn't realized that the US/European settlement of the islands in the 1830s by sailors (many of whom brought Hawaiian wives) was the first permanent settlement of the islands.

Now, apparently, not through wholly malicious actions, but simply through neglect and the natural course of Japan's homogenizing discourses, the special history of the Ogasawaras is obscured, not being taught or acknowledged, and the European/American/Hawaiian identity and culture of the people there slowly declining and disappearing. What the NYT article does not make mention of, surprisingly, is that the Ogasawaras also developed their own form of pidgin, or a mix of Japanese and English pidgin, a unique language that is also disappearing quite rapidly.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
I found the Bonin islands on google maps - they are actually closer to Tokyo than Okinawa. I didn't even imagine there were any islands south of Tokyo isolated way out in the Pacific ocean yet so close to Japan - for some reason I thought Iwo Jima was a lot farther to the Southeast, but it's part of this island chain. From what I can tell by the satellite view, they are populated and based on all of the place names, are (still) Japanese held.


They're part of Tokyo-to. Not sure about the others, but Io-to (known to the non-Japanese world as Iwo Jima) belongs to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and requires special clearance to visit. I took my unit there in 2007 for a visit. It's pretty awesome. The rest of them, I imagine are inhabited.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
In all seriousness, life on the Bonin Islands was probably never easy- especially for those who migrated to that stink hole called Iwo Jima. It's hot and reeks from sulfur in a lot of places. Domer went there on a tour as a guest of the JSDF (the island is completely under the control of the Japanese military and no civilians have lived there since they were evacuated to the mainland prior to the big battle) a few years back and I remember one among the group went down with heat stroke. It must really be hellishly hot and humid in the summer, like the Ryukyus.


It was extremely hot, but our guy going down with heat stroke was probably as much him being a dumbass and not drinking enough as we HELLO HIKE UP MOUNT SURIBACHI YOU IDIOT. Still, it's a lot longer of a hike than you think, and we had to practically run back to the airstrip to make our flight window before the MSDF shut us down, as they were waiting on us to leave to do aerial training.
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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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