The Politics of Extraterritoriality in Post-Occupation Japan and U.S.-Occupied Okinawa, 1952-1972

The Politics of Extraterritoriality in Post-Occupation Japan and U.S.-Occupied Okinawa, 1952-1972
This dissertation locates post-occupation Japan and U.S.-occupied Okinawa during the period between 1952 and 1972 within global and transnational histories of extraterritoriality. The subject of the historical inquiry is the politics surrounding the postwar U.S. policy of retaining extraterritorial jurisdiction over criminal cases involving its military personnel and locals in Japan and Okinawa. The primary objective is to historicize the U.S. Department of Defense’s sevendecades-long policy of maximizing national jurisdiction over its service members’ cases committed on foreign soil as well as contemporary Japanese attitudes toward ongoing public debates about Article 17 (criminal jurisdiction provision) of the 1960 Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. Based on archival documents collected in Okinawa, Japan, and the United States, I demonstrate how the racialized notions of civilization rooted in nineteenth-century western—and
particularly U.S.—supremacy drove the rationale for the postwar American military legal regime of exception and invoked varied reactions to it. This dissertation highlights vertical interactions between state policymaking and local/transnational grassroots responses in occupied Okinawa and post-occupation Japan in order to show how U.S. diplomacy manifested on the ground, and how it coped with various forms of resistance and made adjustments in response. Over the two decades beginning with Japan’s recovery of sovereignty in 1952 and ending
with Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972, the triangular relationship underwent a process of negotiation over each entity’s legal and political subjecthood. Japanese civil society mobilized a nationalist protest movement against the specter of postwar U.S. extraterritoriality in the immediate aftermath of the Allied occupation asserting the integrity of territorial sovereignty. The lingering tensions between U.S. exceptionalism and Japanese nationalism were defused in the late1950s as the Eisenhower administration decided to reduce the colossal presence of U.S. armed forces on the Japanese archipelago. In U.S.-occupied Okinawa (1945-1972), the islanders’ resistance to “extraterritorial” military justice also generated popular fronts. Yet, in contrast to the Japanese resistance which by and large relied on the Euro-centric Westphalian principle of national sovereignty, Okinawans came to employ the egalitarian spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the mid-1950s to demand legal justice and proper compensation even under the military rule. As most U.S. military bases in Japan were moved to tiny Okinawa resulting from Washington’s realignment of U.S. armed forces in Asia in the late 1950s and thereafter, Okinawans’ protest against U.S. military incidents evolved in parallel with their institutionalization of popular human rights activism, and
the process invigorated the consolidation of political forces for reversion. My research finds that as Japanese, American, and Third World activists joined Okinawans in solidarity as they all protested the postwar American military legal regime of exception, a new
meaning of “civilization” was born through collective appeals for the rule of law and universal human rights that had long-term consequences even as Okinawa was integrated into the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement in 1972.


Fumi Inoue

Defended in

1 Jan 2021 – 31 Dec 2021

PhD defended at

Department of History, Boston College




East Asia