Slavic Research Center Seminar (August 18, 2008)
The Soviet Factor in Postwar US-Japan Territorial Issues: Amami, Ogasawara, and Okinawa during the Cold War

By Robert D. Eldridge  

Dr. Robert D. Eldridge, an associate professor at Osaka University’s School of International Public Policy and a visiting associate professor at the Slavic Research Center for the 2008 Academic Year, gave a presentation on August 18, 2008, at the SRC on the research he is conducting during his stay at Hokkaido University. The title of his talk was “The Soviet Factor in Postwar U.S.-Japan Territorial Issues: Amami, Ogasawara, and Okinawa during the Cold War.” The session was co-chaired by professors Rihito Yamamura and David Wolff, and attended by a dozen members of the SRC.

After discussing his research and interest in U.S.-Japan relations and in the three island groups, which began more than a decade ago, Eldridge gave a comparative overview of the reversion processes for each of the three island groups—Amami in 1953, Ogasawara in 1968, and Okinawa in 1972. Eldridge based his comparisons on books he has written about the first two groups of islands (The Return of the Amami Islands: The Reversion Movement and U.S.-Japan Relations, Lexington Books, 2004; also available in Japanese as Amami Henkan to Nichibei Kankei, Nanpo Shinsha, 2003, and Iwo Jima to Ogasawara o Meguru Nichibei Kankei, Nanpo Shinsha, 2008 (Iwo Jima and Ogasawara in U.S.-Japan Relations: American Strategy, Japanese Territory, and the Islanders In-between, forthcoming in English), and on preparations he has made for a third book about the reversion of Okinawa he is hoping to complete in or by 2012, and which is a sequel to his earlier The Origins of the Bilateral Okinawa Problem: Okinawa in Postwar U.S.-Japan Relations, 1945-1952 (Garland, 2001).

Eldridge next turned to explaining the four categories of the “Soviet factor” he was looking at concerning policies on Japanese territories administered by the United States beyond the generic phrase, “Cold War.” The categories he has identified are: (1) Political (influence of Soviet Union on Japanese political parties and reversion movements; make-up of reversion movements); (2) Diplomatic (when and how was the Soviet Union cited by both Japan and the U.S. to get the other to do something); (3) Military (strategic and tactical levels, war planning, basing, etc.); and (4) Public opinion (Soviet influence on Japanese and international media). He then went on to cite specific examples from each of the categories 

The 45-minute talk was followed by another 45 minutes of discussion, with questions and comments from Wolff and SRC Director Akihiro Iwashita




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