Seventh Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday, June 21-Sunday 22, 2003
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University


last update 2002/03/09

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181


Session 1
Exploring the Rich History and Culture of the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands

Organizer: Robert Eldridge, Osaka University
Chair: Daniel Long, Tokyo Metropolitan University

The purpose of this panel is to examine the relatively unknown, but rich history and culture of the Ogasawara, or Bonin, Islands, from several perspectives including sociolinguistics, diplomatic history, music, and eco-tourism. The panel is comprised of four papers, based on extensive fieldwork and documentary evidence, dealing respectively with those topics and in that order. At the same time, the papers will be linked in order to provide a comprehensive view. The first presenter, Long, will speak on the relationship between the identity and language of the unique people of the islands. Eldridge will speak on the postwar diplomatic history, focusing on the administration of the Islands by the United States, and examine in what way the islands were administered, comparing on occasion the situation at the time in Okinawa. Konishi will discuss the development and transformation of Micronesian Song and Dance (Nanyo Odori) in the Ogasawara Islands. Finally, Cunningham will discuss the state of tourism in Ogasawara and the dilemma of preserving the local environment while promoting tourism. This panel will form the basis of a future book on the identity of the islanders.

1) Daniel Long, Tokyo Metropolitan University. "The Unknown Linguistic Heritage of the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands"

The Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands are unique throughout not only Japan (of which they are part) but indeed throughout the world. They were settled in the early 19th century by a mixed band of settlers speaking European, Polynesia and Micronesian languages (among others). The descendents of these settlers remain on the islands today and speak English (ranging from Standard English to a more local variety) and Japanese as well as a Japanese-English Mixed Language. These linguistic abilities play a large role in the formation of the Bonin Islander identity, and in turn this sense of a unique identity reinforces language usage. In this paper, I will examine the complex relationship between language usage and identity, in both an historical and a contemporary context.

2) Robert Eldridge, Osaka University. "The U.S. Naval Administration of Ogasawara Islands, 1945-1968"

The United States occupied and administered the Ogasawara, or Bonin, Islands from 1945 until 1968, when the islands were returned to Japan. While there is much literature on the occupation/administration of Okinawa, little exists on the occupation of the Ogasawara Islands, which met in many ways the same fate as Okinawa. The purpose of this paper is to introduce this unknown history, and to explore the style of administration and the effects that it had on the local population. While the occupation was undertaken for strategic reasons, much like that over Okinawa, there were several differences in the way that the administration was organized. Firstly, the actual direct administration did not begin until 1951. Secondly, the Navy was in charge. Thirdly, only islanders of Western descent were allowed to return to the islands and former residents of Japanese descent were denied permission to return throughout the period. Fourthly, education and local government was undertaken in English (and not Japanese as in was the case in Okinawa). Finally, there was a strong effort by some U.S. Naval officials to encourage the permanent separation of the islands from Japan and the adoption of U.S. citizenship by the islanders. In the paper, these and other issues will be explored and I will attempt to link the first and third papers of this panel.

3) Junko Konishi, Shizuoka University. "The Adoption of Micronesian Song and Dance by Ogasawara Islanders"

It was the oubeikei ("Western") Islanders of Ogasawara who brought the Micronesian-Japanese songs and the Nanyou odori dance to Ogasawara. The original forms of these songs and dance were the product of a cultural syncretism between Japanese and Micronesian cultures under the Japanese administration (1914-1945). Oubeikei-Ogasawarans adopted these cultural forms, which reflected the ambiguous identity of the Japanese-educated Micronesians. Soon after it was introduced into Ogasawara in the 1930s, the Nanyou odori spread among Japanese-Ogasawarans as well, and was transformed into its Japanese form with respect to melodic movements, the pronunciation of the lyrics, and body movements. The Micronesian-Japanese songs, on the other hand, were sung mostly in private by some oubeikei-Ogasawarans until 1988 when a cassette tape of island songs (including these) was released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Ogasawara's return to Japan. Songs on the tape, distributed among the villagers, maintained their distinct forms, especially in melodic movements. In this paper, I discuss the identity of oubeikei-Ogasawarans as represented in these melodic movements, and I refer to those of Micronesia. In addition, I briefly analyze music education after 1968. Using a cassette tape recording of a school music class from the late 1960s or early 1970s, and song books for Ogasawaran children edited by local teachers in the 1990s, I examine how education influenced the assimilation of oubeikei-Ogasawarans.

4) Paul Cunningham, Rikkyo University. "Attitudes Towards Ecotourism Among Lodging Owners on Chichijima, Ogasawara"

Off the beaten track since times eternal, the Ogasawara archipelago remains removed from the global tourism trade and enjoys only a modest number of visitors from the Japanese mainland. Since the establishment of the first known settlement in 1830 by five western men and a group of Hawaiian islanders, there has been a hybridization of cultures and languages on these islands. This one-time reoutfitting and whaling station has evolved into a popular tourist destination. Linked to the mainland only by ship, Ogasawara recently experienced a decline in tourism. Strong concern to preserve the local environment while sustaining a certain level of tourism has put a number of difficult issues before the local residents. The results of a self-administered survey, conducted in August 2001, and a more expansive follow-up interview survey conducted in August 2002 will be discussed. While these studies did not specifically focus upon island identity as related to attitudes towards ecotourism, several such insights revealed by the data will be discussed.

Discussant: John Maher, International Christian University


list of panels